Obama's charm offensive falters as Carney lashes out...


It’s week two of the president’s charm offensive, and already there is dissension in the ranks.

Jay Carney, the occasionally charming spokesman for the newly charming president, began his daily media briefing Monday with a smile, a sunny disposition and a bit of percussion on the lectern. Bum-ba-da-bum-bum, he drummed with his hands.

“Happy Monday!” began Carney, wearing a festive yellow tie and striking a casual pose. “Good afternoon. Thanks for being here for your White House briefing. Spring is here early.”

But it was not long before the White House press secretary was back in his winter of discontent. The first questioner, the Associated Press’s Jim Kuhnhenn, asked Carney to square President Obama’s “charm offensive” with his decision to speak this week to the highly partisan Organizing for Action group.

“I think you’re misrepresenting the group,” Carney informed Kuhnhenn.

NPR’s Mara Liasson asked him a question about Obama’s yet-to-be-released budget. “Mara, the way you phrase that question, you know, makes me think that you’re still working on a typewriter or something,” Carney told the 57-year-old radio correspondent.

He further informed ABC News’s Ann Compton that she had a mistaken understanding of the president’s meetings this week with lawmakers. And when CBS’s Bill Plante pressed him on when Obama would release a budget (it was supposed to have been done last month), Carney leaned forward to argue.

“I challenge virtually every premise of your question,” he told Plante. “I don’t know what your question is here,” he said when Plante tried to ask it in a different way.

“Bill, how long have you been covering Washington?” Carney asked the 75-year-old newsman when he persisted in inquiring about the tardiness of the budget. “Has there ever been a presidential budget that was enacted, word for word, into law?”

NBC’s Chuck Todd broke in, telling Carney that a president never waits until after the House and the Senate introduce budgets to introduce his own.

“Well, I disagree with that,” Carney snapped.

This might be called putting the “offense” in charm offensive.

It was a caution to those swept away by the notion that an entirely new and amiable Obama White House has suddenly emerged: Charm is hard. Continue reading via The Washington Post...

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