In fact, other than the offending phrase, this is an exceptionally good piece of writing. The White House staff is not likely to be happy with a Washington Post article that explicitly contradicts the words quoted in the article by senior aides to the president on one of the most politically sensitive topics any White House has had to handle.
Consider the opening sentence of the article: “Advisers to President Obama are tiptoeing carefully around the political bounce he received after the successful raid on Osama. …” As the article discloses, they are tiptoeing about as carefully as a drunken fat man at three in the morning (my phrase, not the reporter’s).
David Axelrod, the President’s top political adviser, is described in the article as “careful not to paint the raid as a personal victory for the President. It ‘was not a political exercise, so I don’t want to treat it as such,’ he said.”
But obviously, he was not careful enough to fool the Post reporter of this article, who a few paragraphs before that quote pointed out that “Obama is already stitching the victory into the broader tapestry of his 2012 reelection campaign. … And although the White House advisers insist they are not incorporating the bin Laden raid into their political planning for 2012, they acknowledge it has the potential to do more than simply reshape his image as a decisive leader.”
Articles like this tend to close with a kicker last line. Here, the closing line is a quote from the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney: “I think that the president firmly believes that making the right policy decisions tends to be beneficial come political season, but for him, at least, political season is a long way off.”
Given that the article’s whole point was that the president’s advisers are tripping over one another trying to take immediate political advantage of the event, Carney can’t be pleased with the ironic tone implicit in his article-closing quote.
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