If you want to know why Jake Tapper is an exceptional (and exceptionally independent-minded) White House reporter, watch him press White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on whether President Obama is willing to rebuke the use of inflammatory and wholly inappropriate rhetoric by Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa. (The president will not.)
It’s another embarrassing moment for Carney (there are a fair number of those these days) and highlights how meaningless and deeply cynical the Obama administration’s calls to civility really are. The president has tremendous influence with his allies; if he genuinely cared about the quality of public discourse in America, why wouldn’t he rebuke Hoffa? It would be the right thing to do and lend greater credibility to his civility sermons — including when he calls out conservatives and Republicans for their inappropriate rhetoric (which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do from time to time). But in this case, doing the right thing would probably offend the labor movement — and Obama, it seems, is unwilling to do that at any cost. Even at the cost of upholding the civility he claims to care so much about.