In the most recent White House press briefing, presidential apologist Jay Carney responded to a provocative question from Fox News about the President's "milquetoast" statement on the coup d'etat in Egypt. "As you know," Carney asserted angrily, "The President has called directly on the Egyptian military to "…move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government."
"Who did he call, Jay," the reporter followed up.
"I didn't say the President called anyone, I said he called on someone." Anticipating the follow-follow-on question, Carney continued, "the difference between calling someone and calling on them is that when you call on someone you don't actual call them, but you speak to a third person or group of persons instead and hope the other person overhears you. This is also different from the President's approach to the recent spat with Putin over the NSA leaker, Snowden. In that case, the President announced in advance that he would neither call Putin nor call on him. These are both subtle ways of ensuring that if the other person doesn't do what you ask, you can deny that they refused you."
"And have the generals given any signs of complying quickly?" another reporter asked, anxious to return to the matter of the coup d'etat.
"It's early days and Egypt is a big country. We think there is some progress, but there is a lot more to do, as the President often reminds us," Carney said. "The President has assured me that he intends to get to the bottom of this and ensure that it never happens again."
"But the latest reports are of arrests and shootings," a puzzled reporter objected.
"Yes, but there have been peaceful protests too," Carney answered. "The President's goal is not to pour gasoline onto the fire, but to use our influence in a positive way."
"But do we have any influence there?" the Fox News reporter asked. "Reports are that Morsi's supporters see the coup as an American plot, and that Morsi's enemies think we support him."
Carney laughed. "You still don't get it, do you? When everyone hates you, it means your policy is even-handed, fair and balanced. Stick to the news and let the politicians govern," Carney joked as he left the briefing room.