White House press secretary Jay Carney gave a confident assessment of the situation in Syria today — while acknowledging that they hadn’t talked to the senator who was just on the ground there.
Nor was a meeting with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who spent several hours with rebel leaders in Syria near the Turkish border, even on the calendar as the administration swore was a priority.
“I think we said yesterday that we were aware of his trip,” Carney told reporters at the daily briefing today when asked about President Obama’s “appraisal” of McCain’s trip, and whether he thought it was “meddling.”
“We were aware of his trip, and we look forward to the president discussing with Senator McCain, you know, his — his visit,” he added.
“Is that on his schedule even?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t have a scheduling update for you, but as you know the president speaks with — or meets with Senator McCain with some regularity. They met recently here in the White House. I — but I don’t know that they have spoken yet since the Senator was in Syria,” Carney said.
However, the press secretary stressed, “I would say that Assad remains in a vulnerable position.”
“That his control over his country is extremely reduced because of the strength of the opposition,” he continued. “There are obviously ebbs and flows in something like this and we have noted the role played by Iran in supporting Assad. We have note the role played by Hezbollah in supporting Assad. And have noted that — that, that says a lot about the Assad regime in terms of the — the friends it has in the neighborhood and the world.”
After two years, two months and two weeks of fighting, Carney said, “I think that it’s evident there remains a great amount of violence, great loss of life.”
At conservative estimates, that’s about 80,000 dead.