Jake Tapper tried today to get Obama spokesman Jay Carney to say something — anything — useful to repudiate Teamster James Hoffa’s controversial remarks about making war on the Tea Party. But as you’ll see, Carney does everything he can short of fleeing the room to avoid making any sort of judgement about Hoffa’s comment.

YouTube Preview Image

Pay particular attention to the part where Tapper reminds Carney about an incident involving McCain in 2008. Carney tries to leave himself an awful lot of room to hit Republicans for things others say, while reserving for his boss the right not to have to answer for anyone, even a close ally like Hoffa. If Carney was a better spokesman, the gambit wouldn’t be as obvious as he makes it. Fortunately, he’s lousy at his job and the double standard he tries to set up is not likely to stand any stronger than a house of cards against the Texas wildfires.

If there was ever any doubt that the post-Tucson posturing about “civility” was nothing more than an effort to use the victims to silence conservatives, let the clip above remove that doubt forever. Jay Carney has actually done the nation a service in exposing just how cynical all that business was, by not offering any opinion at all on Hoffa’s comment, though it is clearly more dependent on the credible threat of violence to carry its full meaning. Hoffa’s meaning is political, don’t get me wrong, but coming from a Big Labor boss, it was intended to intimidate as well as motivate. In that way it falls in line with Congressional Black Caucus rhetoric about the Tea Party, and with the president’s own “punish their enemies” line. And the president has repudiated none of it, despite his own rhetoric about civility after Tucson.