During today’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney should have expected queries about President Obama’s comment that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez does not pose a “serious” threat to the United States. The comment has drawn strong rebukes from Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Cuban-Americans. Chavez has aligned himself with the oppressive Castro regime that the families of the two Florida Republicans fled.
When Carney was asked about the comment today, here is how he responded.
REPORTER: In what way is Hugo Chavez’s government in Venezuela not a serious security threat to the US?
CARNEY: You know, I’m going to have to refer you to the State Department on that. I saw that story before I came out, but I didn’t read it. So I don’t know.
The State Department didn’t make the comment. Neither did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Obama made the comment, in a context he probably expected would allow him to get away with it.
Obama’s press secretary didn’t bother himself to bone up on the situation. It’s nice to see a presidential appointee so diligent about doing his job.