WH spokesman Josh Earnest has an ‘astounding’ reply when grilled about Yemen as a ‘success story’

After six-plus years at the helm, the Obama administration’s “modus operandi” is fairly clear; establish a favorable narrative on a topic, reality be damned, and never admit fault. And when all else fails, stonewall.

And with Yemen descending into chaos, that’s the tactic White House press secretary Josh Earnest employed Thursday while in the usually friendly confines of MSNBC.

“Is Yemen still a success story? Can you say that?” Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski bluntly asked.

Of course, Earnest dodged the question, suggesting that Yemen has “for years been a chaotic situation.” A very different tone than that which President Obama espoused as he praised the country as a success story in the war on terror.

America was, in effect, chased out of Yemen by Islamic extremist forces, but Earnest did his best to make lemonade out of the lemon handed to him.

It was Ernest’s second grilling in two days on the subject. On Wednesday, he faced a similar question from ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl at the daily press briefing.

It didn’t go well for Earnest, with Karl describing the answer he got as “astounding.”

“The White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to have local fighters take the fight to extremists in their own country,” Earnest said. “That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat in Yemen and Somalia.”

“That’s astounding,” Karl responded. “You still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this a model for counterterrorism?”

Think what you will of Earnest, but you can never accuse the man of not earning his paycheck.



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Tom Tillison


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