Was there a second student that Kevin Jennings gave bad advice to?
The Obama administration isn't adequately vetting important presidential appointees. When it was exposed that former "green jobs czar" Van Jones believed in crazy conspiracies about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was questionable whether anyone had even bothered to Google individuals before they received presidential appointments. In that case, the White House strategy was to refuse to answer questions and hope interest faded away. That approach worked for most of the media, which carried water for President Obama's scandal-plagued pick. Stonewalling scandal is not what Americans were expecting from an administration that promised to usher in an "unprecedented level of openness in government." Instead, a pattern of presidential obfuscation is developing.
For more than a 1 1/2 weeks now, The Washington Times has tried unsuccessfully to get the Obama administration to answer questions about the controversies surrounding Kevin Jennings, the president's "safe schools czar." On Wednesday, Mr. Jennings released a five-sentence statement regarding his knowledge about the sexual abuse of a high school sophomore named Brewster when he was a teacher at the teenager's school. After repeated denials and backpedaling, Mr. Jennings finally halfheartedly admitted this week that perhaps covering up sex between an adult and a high school student might not have been totally appropriate. "I can see how I should have handled this situation differently," he said.
This week's meager statement answered no important questions . . . .
This is how the press at the White House briefing asked about the Kevin Jennings case. This is the extremely weak, almost apologetic, questioning that Robert Gibbs got this last week on the Jennings case.
Q On a different subject, the right went after Van Jones for statements that he had made in the past. He lost a job. This guy Yosi Sergant at the National Endowment of the Arts was their next target. He lost his job. Now conservatives are going after Kevin Jennings at the Department of Education for what they say is, I don't know, facilitating -- I can't tell what it was -- but anyway, something bad. (Laughter.) It was facilitating statutory rape. And I'm wondering, first of all, if you guys -- are you aware of this latest campaign? Do you have anything substantive to say about what they are saying about this guy, Kevin Jennings, and when does -- what do you think of this hop-scotching from appointment -- Obama appointment to Obama appointment?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the Department of Education had a statement on this. I would point you to that. I think there are many good people from every political persuasion that seek to serve their country and serve in government. I think it's a sacrifice, but one that people do voluntarily because they love their country.
I think it's a shame to watch what they do -- I think it's a shame -- I hope that as people watch, they'll match up some of the actual truth to what is being said on some of these occasions and start to provide a little reality check to some of what's going on.
Q But some in your camp would say that it's -- the White House has the power to stop it simply by no longer pushing these guys out of their positions. Is there any truth to that?
MR. GIBBS: I think in previous occasions that you mentioned are people that resigned on their own volition. . . . .