Friday afternoon’s announcement by the president that his press secretary, Jay Carney, was resigning in a couple of weeks caught some by surprise. Said the president:
One of Jay’s favorite lines is “I have no personnel announcements at this time.” But I do.
It’s bittersweet. It involves one of my closest friends here in Washington. In April, Jay came to me and said he was thinking about moving on and I was not thrilled to say the least. Jay has had to wrestle with this decision for quite some time....
I will continue to rely on him as a friend and an adviser after he leaves to spend as much of his summer as he can with his kids before he decides what's next for him. Whatever it is, I know he's going to be outstanding at it.
Carney dutifully responded, “It’s been a privilege. Every day. It’s been a privilege.”
It’s also been challenging. Since taking over from Robert Gibbs in February 2011, Carney has had to provide cover for the White House as scandal after scandal has erupted, ranging from the deadly Benghazi terror attack and IRS targeting of conservative groups to problems with ObamaCare — and most recently the VA scandal.
In his role as purveyor of messaging, shaper of public perception of those scandals, avoider of answering hard questions, and in general a shielder of the Obama administration from public outrage, Carney has had to appear transparent while actually covering up. After all, the present administration is supposed to be the most “transparent” in history. At least that’s what the president said following his inauguration:
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy [sic] and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.
His transparency promise started to unravel almost immediately.
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Photo of President Barack Obama giving Jay Carney a hug after announcing that Carney will step down: AP Images