Friday, April 6, 2012

White House Press Secretary Doing His Best Not to Admit Obama's Mistake

This is pretty hilarious to watch. Jay Carney just can't admit that the President was wrong when he essentially said that the Supreme Court overturning a law would be unprecedented. Watch the video, I also have the transcript below:



Q Quick question on health care. Yesterday, you mentioned a couple times the President is a former constitutional law professor. One of his professors is Laurence Tribe and he now says, in his words, the President “obviously misspoke earlier this week. He didn’t say what he meant, and having said that in order to avoid misleading anyone, he had to clarify it.”

So I thought yesterday you were saying repeatedly, did not misspeak. What do you make of the President’s former law professor saying he did?

MR. CARNEY: Well, you can choose words however you like. What Professor Tribe said is that the President clarified, and he did, and he expanded on his remarks of Monday when he took a question on Tuesday.

The premise of your question suggests that the President of the United States, in the comments he made Monday, did not believe that the Supreme Court could rule on the constitutionality of legislation, which is a preposterous premise, and I know you don’t believe that. So what I accept --

Q Well, except this is from Professor Tribe, who knows a lot more than you or I about constitutional law.

MR. CARNEY: What I accept and what I think I acknowledged yesterday --

Q This is a former --

MR. CARNEY: -- is that in speaking on Monday, the President was not clearly understood by some people. Because he is a law professor, he spoke in shorthand.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. CARNEY: He referred to things like -- well, what Laurence Tribe said is that he did not say what he meant, because Laurence Tribe clearly knows that the President understands judicial precedent -- he has a little experience with it -- and the importance of judicial review.

The President spoke on Monday. The President expanded and clarified his comments on Tuesday. His whole point is that he is pretty conversant with judicial precedent, and the judicial precedent here is clear: That on matters of national economic significance -- and let’s not forget that health care is, what, 15 percent of our economy -- that the precedent is overwhelmingly on the side of upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, there is no debate between the plaintiff or the defendant on the issue of whether or not health care is something -- is a matter of national economic significance. This is not -- that’s not even an issue in the case that appeared before the Supreme Court.

So the President’s unremarkable observation is that since the New Deal era, the Lochner era that preceded the New Deal and the change in approach by the Court, there has been a longstanding precedent set where the Court defers to Congress and to congressional authority in passing legislation to deal with and regulate matters of national economic significance. That’s all.

Q Last thing. On the point of critics claiming the President was attacking the Court, your colleagues have correctly noted that when the President said that the justices are unelected he was quoting conservative commentators who have said that for years. However, are you then suggesting that if you were to lose in this case, the President will not attack the Court? Does he consider them fair game in this process to attack them?

MR. CARNEY: The President believes that the Supreme Court has a final word on matters of judicial review, on the constitutionality of legislation. He would, having been a professor of law. The fact of the matter is that, going back again to the comments the President made on Monday and on Tuesday, he believes that because of the overwhelming precedent here in this case, that the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. That was the point he was making all along, both Monday and Tuesday.

Q What he said on Monday was an obvious misspoken moment, because he talked about the Court not being in a position to overturn acts of Congress.

MR. CARNEY: The President -- look, Bill --

Q You're standing there saying --

MR. CARNEY: As your colleague --

Q -- because he made a mistake, and you can't admit it.

MR. CARNEY: No, no, Bill, I am acknowledging -- you're sharing in the righteous indignation here that your colleague --

Q I'm just noting your --

MR. CARNEY: The President spoke, in answer to a question, relatively briefly, and in the context of this case, made the statement that there is no judicial precedent -- that there is longstanding judicial precedent which would argue that the Court should not overturn this law. I grant to you -- I totally grant to you that he did not refer to the Commerce Clause; he did not refer to the full context. I think he believed that that was understood. Clearly, some folks, notably people sitting in that chair and others, missed that and --

Q It's our fault.

MR. CARNEY: No, no, look, others -- look, others --

Q It surely is. (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: I'm just saying that there's a lot of -- it's kind of ridiculous to believe that the President wasn't talking about the context of the case. But I completely concede that he did not describe the context when he took the question and answered it on Monday. He then, asked again on Tuesday, provided the full context. And so, did he clarify his comments? Absolutely. Did he expand on them? Absolutely.

Q Were his comments Monday messy?

MR. CARNEY: You guys -- it's your job to come up with clich├ęs like "game on" and things like that. But I'm not going to engage in that.

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