The Obama administration seems to have acquired an “extraordinary” expertise in growing media insurgencies. In recent months, we’ve had occasion to observe a variety of administration media offensives which have enlarged rather than diminished criticism of the Obama White House. The “Party Crashers” at the White House state dinner last week breached security but, they also catalyzed a media feeding frenzy. The current administration seems to have a knack for picking media fights it can’t win.
When Anita Dunning attacked Fox News, it led to a Fox News increase in Nielsen ratings. The same held true when David Axelrod went after Rush Limbaugh. The latest feet of clay dance of President’s media handlers is in the response to what the press has termed the White House “Party Crashers.” If they haven’t done so already, Michaela and Michael Salahi should incorporate under their own brand. Following that will be a clothing line, book contracts, television appearances, a film, and pro bono help from the American Bar Association as the Senate Hearing Committee investigating the incident subpoenas the Salahis’ testimony.
There’s something slightly different here, in that the Salahi incursion into the White House state dinner was a real event, whereas Fox News and Rush Limbaugh were teapot tempests of the White House’s own making. The real part of the Salahi invasion is that everyone recognizes the disastrous effect upon America of a physical attack on the president. That the Salahis could have so easily waltzed through the web of Secret Service protection and into face-to-face meetings with President Obama, VP Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, and many others of Obama’s inner circle is a frightening prospect, whether one is a supporter of the president or his toughest critic. Presidential security is something we need to take seriously, given our history.
So now that the Salahis have declined a request to testify at a hearing on the matter, they will most certainly receive a subpoena. The greater problem is that, for White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, the President’s office has claimed executive privilege on the basis of separation of powers.
Well, okay…. But isn’t executive privilege supposed to be for matters of greater national importance to the president than this gate-crashing fiasco? Since when do social secretaries claim executive privilege? If White House Social Secretaries can claim executive privilege, then why not the White House chefs, the gardeners, the custodians, or whoever cleans the dog poop from the White House lawn? You can understand why there was such glee in the beady eyes of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough this morning on the “Morning Joe” program. Persistent Obama White House apologist Norah O’Donnell tried unsuccessfully to conceal her laughter as Scarborough chided Chuck Todd who appeared on the program with the White House in the background. Todd and others on the program defended the White House on the grounds that the impact was temporary and comparatively insignificant. True, but the lack of candor is sure to keep the story walking around for months, as Congress presses its investigation.
In this most “transparent” White House, it is considered impolitic to admit that White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers had any part in the security breach. Instead, Secret Service Chief Mark Sullivan had to appear before the Senate to claim full and sole responsibility. Almost no one believes this “sole responsibility” story, unless the Secret Service has deteriorated to the level of a rent-a-cop corps.
Most embarrassing of all is that Washington Post style reporter Roxanne Roberts, who attended the state dinner, made two separate inquiries to the President’s staff about the Salahis, whom she knew were not on the guest list.
“The minute I saw them, because I was very surprised, I immediately grabbed the list and looked for their name and noticed it wasn’t there, which is very unusual,” Roberts told CBS news reporter Nancy Cordes.