Twenty-four hours after James P. Hoffa’s warm-up remarks “stole the show” from the President’s Labor Day address in Detroit, the White House would not repudiate nor even criticize the Teamsters president’s call to defeat the Tea Party-backed Republicans in Congress with the words: “Let’s take these sonofabitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.”
In refusing to say a critical word about Hoffa or the language he used on Labor Day, the White House dealt quite differently than John McCain did when a warm-up speaker at one of his rallies in ’08 said something a lot less incendiary about Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Speaking at a rally for McCain in Cincinnati on Feb. 26, 2008, radio talk show host Bill Cunningham repeatedly referred to Obama by his full name “Barack Hussein Obama” and denounced the Democratic candidate as “a hack, Chicago-style Daley politician.”
Republican McCain later said he would “disassociate myself with any disparaging remarks” about Obama by Cunningham.
But the President’s top spokesman would not take the same approach toward Hoffa. Nor would he utter a critical word about the Teamsters boss’s language.
At the regular press briefing at the White House on Tuesday, ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper cited Hoffa’s words and then recalled how President Obama in January called for an end to what he called “violent rhetoric” after the near-fatal shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson.
After Tapper asked whether the President meant that, Press Secretary Jay Carney replied: “Of course he did.”
Then Tapper shot back, “Where do the comments by the Teamsters president fit in with that?”
Carney replied that “those weren’t comments by the President” and went on to claim, almost incredibly, “The President wasn’t there, he wasn’t on the stage, he didn’t speak for another 20 minutes, he didn’t hear it. I really don’t have any comment beyond that.”
Tapper recalled covering Obama in the ’08 campaign, and in an obvious reference to the Cunningham remarks, pointed out that “somebody made some harsh comments about then-Senator Obama during the introduction at a McCain rally, and the Obama campaign was offended, and expected an apology. Senator McCain came out and did so.”
Carney was unmoved. As he put it: “Mr. Hoffa speaks for himself, he speaks for the labor movement, AFL-CIO. The President speaks for himself, I speak for the President.”
Tapper asked whether the precedent Carney was setting for the 2012 election means that “Republican candidates are the ones to pay attention to” and “those who introduce them at rallies, their surrogates, we don’t have to pay attention to anything they say.”
“Jake,” a testy Carney replied. “I think I’ve said what I can say.”
When CNS correspondent Fred Lucas tried to ask whether the President found Hoffa’s comments “appropriate,” Carney grew exasperated and simply said, “Can we move on?”
HUMAN EVENTS contacted the offices of Sen. McCain and Bill Cunningham to see whether the new standard about rhetoric voiced at the White House on Tuesday was as a double-standard as far they were concerned. Hopefully, we’ll hear what they have to say soon.
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