You can always tell when it’s a slow news day in the White House briefing room. They tend to challenge reporters to take a second look, and offer a new spin on the same old storiess. The Secret Service sex scandal continues to commanded most of the attention.
So far, the White House has walked a fine line between showing support for the men and women who are entrusted with protecting our nation’s leaders and condemning behavior deemed inappropriate by rules of ethics and decency. But as the internal investigation into allegations linking Secret Service personnel to prostitutes trudges on, new charges are beginning to rise to the surface.
Was the Secret Service’s purported inappropriate behavior in Columbia a one-time occurrence or par for the course when team members travel abroad to exotic locations? In the wake of other accusations about illicit behavior, how sure can the administration be that the problem is not more widespread than initially thought?
White House spokesman Jay Carney was mum on the issue, saying, “I would refer to you, as it relates to the reports that you just mentioned, to the Secret Service. I simply don’t have anything for you on that from here.”
When pressed further about the Secret Service doing a thorough investigation since news reports seem to be uncovering new information every day, Carney said, “But certainly for the time being, we’re not going to comment on unconfirmed reports that appear in the newspaper about potential other incidents.”
When asked whether the president has been assured that this is not a pattern of behavior by the Secret Service, the hot potato was simply returned to the press corps. “While this is an ongoing investigation, we’re not going to comment more broadly,“ Carney said.
President Obama’s recent push for Congress to act to avoid student loan interest rates from increasing was also held under the microscope. His trips to schools in states important to his re-election bid are being dissected by political watchers. House Speaker John Boehner has asserted that the president had turned the student loan issue into a political one and that his recent speeches were no more than campaign trips.
But Carney fired back, accusing the other side of trying to hide the fact that they were initially opposed to the interest rate increase but later caved to public pressure. “So we know what their position was. We are glad they changed it. And they changed it, in large part, because the president took his argument out to the country and they felt that pressure," Carney said.
The president and first lady will be traveling again Friday. According to the White House, they are heading to Georgia for an event that will express their commitment to veterans and military families.
Next week, you can count on seeing some kind of acknowledgement of the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Although it has been viewed as a political feather in the president’s cap, his team has resisted the urge to gloat.
“It’s a part of his policy record but it’s a part of a very serious endeavor to keep the country safe," Carney said. "The way we’ve handled it represents the balance you need to strike."
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)