The Mean Girls in the White House

 

“I’m rubber, and you’re glue. Whatever you say sticks back on you!”

Ever heard that one? It’s the quintessential schoolyard taunt, used by mean girls who are confronted about their meanness. An acceptable alternative is “I know you are, but what am I?”

Thanks to White House press secretary Jay Carney, however, the art of mean girl rhetoric has been elevated to use in official White House communications.  Responding to Paul Ryan’s criticisms that Obama has “opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past,” Carney today told reporters that

I would simply remind Congressman Ryan that the Republican leader in the other body, the Senate, made clear in public statements that his number-one priority wasn’t to work with Democrats, wasn’t to work with the president, wasn’t to get things done in a way that the American people want them to get done, but to — his number-one priority, as he said explicitly, was to do everything he could to assure that President Obama was not reelected. It sounds like politics of division to me.

That sort of response to valid criticism from someone as earnest and good-natured as Paul Ryan comes off as smug, petulant, and deserving of a time out.  If the President and his people insist on acting like children, they better expect to be treated as such.

There are 22 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TimHughes

    This guy is the ultimate Howdy Doody of press secretaries. You can actually see the strings that move this little puppet.

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    @MarkWilson

    He started it!

    • #2
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    @wilberforge

    Carney would be amusing if this were not all so hideously real.

    • #3
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    @SteveManacek

    Someone should remind this adolescent that unlike any particular congressman or senator, his boss, as Head of State, is President of the Whole People — not just those of one party. Regardless of the merits of this particular spat (and they are not on Carney’s side — the Democrats were crowing, “We won” before 99% of Americans had heard of Mitch McConnell), the President simply has a higher obligation to eschew divisiveness than any congressman or senator, Democrat or Republican.

    • #4
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    @BereketKelile

    Saying that you won’t your party to win the next Presidential election is divisive? So are we supposed to just take a break from elections this time around, a la the comment from the governor of North Carolina, because it’s just too divisive? Instead, we’ll just have successions from now on, no more elections.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Percival

    Jay Carney manages all by himself to take the level of discourse back to Junior High School.

    That picture! I haven’t felt like giving someone a swirly since 1972.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HVTs
    wilber forge: Carney would be amusing if this were not all so hideously real. · Oct 26 at 4:49pm

    I’d add (at the risk of seeming to quibble) that it’s misleading to cast this behavior as childish. Even though the line of reasoning it employs is intellectually unsophisticated, the White House isn’t being childish but instead quite calculating when it employs denigration and misdirection to silence or disarm its opposition. You never want to underestimate your opponent, which I’m afraid the childish label encourages us to do.

    • #7
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    @DianeEllis
    HVTs

    wilber forge: Carney would be amusing if this were not all so hideously real. · Oct 26 at 4:49pm

    I’d add (at the risk of seeming to quibble) that it’s misleading to cast this behavior as childish. Even though the line of reasoning it employs is intellectually unsophisticated, the White House isn’t being childish but instead quite calculating when it employs denigration and misdirection to silence or disarm its opposition. You never want to underestimate your opponent, which I’m afraid the childish label encourages us to do. · Oct 26 at 5:12pm

    I don’t know about that, HVTs. Lately, this lot comes off as peevish and desperate. If that’s intended as a calculation, well, it seems more like a miscalculation to me.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @wilberforge
    HVTs

    wilber forge: Carney would be amusing if this were not all so hideously real. · Oct 26 at 4:49pm

    I’d add (at the risk of seeming to quibble) that it’s misleading to cast this behavior as childish. Even though the line of reasoning it employs is intellectually unsophisticated, the White House isn’t being childish but instead quite calculating when it employs denigration and misdirection to silence or disarm its opposition. You never want to underestimate your opponent, which I’m afraid the childish label encourages us to do. · Oct 26 at 5:12pm

    Agreed, Carney is just so obvious and difficult to suffer. It is just a given that your post is true.

    • #9
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    @DrewInWisconsin

    I associate this sort of childish thing — “I know you are but what am I?” — with Pee Wee Herman. As such, I will typically award a Pee Wee rating to such comebacks, to gauge just how childish it is.

    This particular comeback rates 4 out of 5 Pee Wees. Very good, but I think he has it in him to go full Pee Wee.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    Jay Carney went to the Ralph Malph Military Academy. That glare wouldn’t freeze an Amish jaywalker.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @wilberforge
    Diane Ellis, Ed.

    HVTs

    wilber forge: Carney would be amusing if this were not all so hideously real. · Oct 26 at 4:49pm

    I’d add (at the risk of seeming to quibble) that it’s misleading to cast this behavior as childish. Even though the line of reasoning it employs is intellectually unsophisticated, the White House isn’t being childish but instead quite calculating when it employs denigration and misdirection to silence or disarm its opposition. You never want to underestimate your opponent, which I’m afraid the childish label encourages us to do. · Oct 26 at 5:12pm

    I don’t know about that, HVTs. Lately, this lot comes off as peevish and desperate. If that’s intended as a calculation, well, it seems more like a miscalculation to me. · Oct 26 at 5:16pm

    Good call, peevish and desperate. Perhaps something closer to the man finally realizing the pitch is not working anymore. Overly simplistic ? maybe not.

    One might think Carney has little left in his toolbox, appears that way.

    • #12
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    @Roberto

    I think it might improve my opinion of Mr. Carney if one day he just spouts off, “I know you are, but what am I?”

    • #13
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    @barbaralydick

    Well, let’s see. His endless campaigning, er, road trips to chat up the regular folk (read: bash and blame the Republicans); his inability – or unwillingness – to negotiate a reasonable withdrawal with the Iraqis together with the rest of his other foreign policy adventures; etc., etc., have all been done shore up his base. But no, that’s not political. And with O’s tanking poll numbers his press sec’y actually stands there and says we don’t want to do things “in a way the American people want them to get done”? Whoa. That’s chutzpah.

    But Carney shouldn’t get his panties in a bunch (‘knickers in a knot’ is reserved for grownups) as the Big O wants to go it alone, sans Congress. So what should it matter what Mr. Ryan says? Idiot.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @wilberforge
    Pseudodionysius: Jay Carney went to the Ralph Malph Military Academy. That glare wouldn’t freeze an Amish jaywalker. · Oct 26 at 5:30pm

    A role in another Police Academy film ?

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @user_19450
    DrewInWisconsin: I associate this sort of childish thing — “I know you are but what am I?” — with Pee Wee Herman. As such, I will typically award a Pee Wee rating to such comebacks, to gauge just how childish it is.

    This particular comeback rates 4 out of 5 Pee Wees. Very good, but I think he has it in him to go full Pee Wee. · Oct 26 at 5:29pm

    Ha! Merci blah blah for the Pee Wee reference.

    • #16
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    @Percival

    I can’t wait to read his memoir: Oh Yeah? Well So’s Your Old Man!

    • #17
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    @WesternChauvinist
    Percival: Jay Carney manages all by himself to take the level of discourse back to Junior High School.

    That picture! I haven’t felt like giving someone a swirly since 1972. · Oct 26 at 5:08pm

    I’ve never had the urge to give someone a swirly… until now.

    • #18
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    @KennedySmith

    Well, no wonder. Check out the tie. He’s a Gryffindor. Those guys were always smug little jerks in high school.

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    @WesternChauvinist
    Kennedy Smith: Well, no wonder. Check out the tie. He’s a Gryffindor. Those guys were always smug little jerks in high school. · Oct 26 at 6:14pm

    +5 HP!

    • #20
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    @KellyB
    Pseudodionysius: Jay Carney went to the Ralph Malph Military Academy. That glare wouldn’t freeze an Amish jaywalker. · Oct 26 at 5:30pm

    Note to self: read Pseudodionysius’ comments WITHOUT a mouthful of hot tea!

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HVTs
    Diane Ellis, Ed. I don’t know about that, HVTs. Lately, this lot comes off as peevish and desperate. If that’s intended as a calculation, well, it seems more like a miscalculation to me.

    Regret slow reply – lost internet. [:-(The White House is counting on an updated “do-nothing Congress” theme. Obama’s failure is/will be blamed on Republicans out to get him rather than do what’s right for America. This theme is giving disenchanted Democrats a meme to cling to. It will encourage undecided voters to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. Carney’s messaging is consistent with this. It’s peevish and desperate primarily to those already anti-Obama. It will work for many others. The key is ‘how many’ but we won’t know for a year. Obama is playing a poor hand rather well, which is why he shouldn’t be underestimated. Since most voters spend one-tenth of one-percent as much time thinking about politics as the average Ricochet member, he is justified in thinking a ‘blame others’ strategy can gain him enough support to get by a Romney or Perry, let alone the others.
    • #22

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