As of Thursday, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch has waited 149 days for confirmation, more than twice as long as the previous seven attorneys general combined. That delay has been the subject of increasingly intense frustration from President Obama and his administration, and on Thursday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest uncharacteristically added some smack-talk to the fire.
It has even become too much for openly bemused Fox News correspondent Kevin Corke, who told Earnest, at Thursday’s White House briefing, that he’s “run out of ways to describe” the delay, and asked for his reaction to it. Earnest, who obviously came prepared for this question, launched into an impassioned (for Josh Earnest) denunciation of the Republicans’ delay, openly mocking media narratives about the president’s ability to get along with Congress, and condemning Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for first urging the president not to rush Lynch through a lame duck session, then blaming Democrats for not confirming Lynch during the lame duck session:
“That in my mind is an astounding display of duplicity.”
At the very end of the briefing, Fox News Radio’s Jon Decker shopped Earnest’s quote back to him, asking if he thought using terms like “duplicity” was “helpful.” Earnest told him right where helpful could go:
“I’ll just observe, Jon, that being nice has gotten us a 160-day delay. So maybe after they look up ‘duplicitous’ in the dictionary, we’ll get a different result.”
The holdup of Loretta Lynch’s nomination is tied up in Republican attempts to add anti-abortion language to a human trafficking bill, and has led to accusations of racism by Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The president and his press team have thus far resisted that characterization, but have expressed mounting frustration over the delay. Earnest’s rebukes at Thursday’s briefing are the latest expression of that frustration, ad drew strong reactions from the assembled reporters.
It’s unclear what benefit Republicans think they’ll derive from this delay, since every day they hold Lynch up is another day f service for Attorney General Eric Holder. Whatever it is, they ought to consider that when you’re losing Fox News, maybe it’s time to cut bait.