Senator John McCain took exception to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s Tuesday “light our hair on fire” comment in response to ISIS raising its flag over newly-conquered Ramadi. Earnest was responding to media queries concerning ISIS gains in Iraq and potential threats posed by ISIS.
According to The Hill, in an interview on Fox, McCain said: “People lined up and shot….fleeing homes…were not losing…Secretary of State (says) a target of opportunity…and then of course, my most unfavorite, is this idiot Earnest saying well, were not going to set our hair on fire every time there is a setback.”
When challenged by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, who halted the Arizona senator, McCain retracted his characterization and continued with the interview.
Senator McCain: Assailing a defenseless White House Press Secretary only does harm to your reputation and accelerates the decay of the public square into a verbal junkyard.
As matter of deliberate practice, White House spokespersons are ill-informed, appreciably to contain leaks and protect superiors. Despite some incompetent people managing the flow of news, government spokespersons live a life besieged on national television by a skeptical and unforgiving press corps. Far different from the often-confrontational Jay Carney, who habitually came across as a dockside bully in exchanges with the press corps, Earnest’s demeanor is calm, polite and infinitely respectful of his interlocutors even when appearing evasive, peddling partisan spin, offering implausible explanations or simply defending the president.
Senator McCain: You are free to judge the abilities of others and the facts may bear your interpretation, but leave the name calling and the venom to others. You neither need nor want it.
There is such thing as etiquette in Washington.
[The Hill] [Politico]