During today’s White House press briefing, Fox News’ Ed Henry asked spokesman Jay Carney to respond to Rev. Luis Leon’s Easter sermon. President Obama was sitting in the pews at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington on Easter Sunday when Rev. Leon launched a racially tinged political attack on the so-called religious right.
Carney claimed ignorance, played the political equivalency card and refused to condemn Leon’s remarks at all.
ED HENRY: I want to ask about yesterday’s Easter mass. The president brought his family over to St. John’s as a lot of Republican and Democratic presidents have. Was he surprised, were you surprised that the Reverend Leon decided to get so political and attack members of the religious right, at one point saying that they want, quote, “blacks to be back in the back of the bus.” It seemed sort of odd for Easter. Were you surprised by that?
CARNEY: Well, I wasn’t there. And I have not spoken with the president, I know that he enjoys going to the Easter services with his family. And in-keeping with the tradition that dates back many presidencies, he went right across the park here to St. John’s and attended those services. I think it’s been noted that Reverend Leon has been there for quite some time. He gave the invocation at President George W. Bush’s second inaugural. So, again, I wasn’t there, I don’t have a characterization to make of his comments. The president was just attending Easter services with his family.
HENRY: He did speak at Bush’s inaugural. He also did the benediction at President Obama’s most recent inaugural and said something about loving thy neighbor, et cetera. Do you think this kind of language changes the tone in a positive way?
CARNEY: Well again, he is not a politician. This is not a senator, a member of congress, or the president. This is a sermon at a church here that has been visited by presidents of both parties for many years. I don’t have anything more on it for you.
Rev. Leon’s remarks have been the subject of public debate since Sunday afternoon. It isn’t plausible that no one in the White House is aware of them, since President Obama himself was sitting in the congregation when Rev. Leon made them. Carney could get a characterization of those remarks from none other than Barack Obama, but unfortunately Obama has cultivated a reputation for not listening in church.