White House spokesman Jay Carney bristled Friday at suggestions from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions that a series of recent incidents — including Secret Service misbehavior in Colombia, the General Service Agency spending scandal and soldiers posing with dead Afghan insurgents — symbolized a breakdown in President Obama’s leadership.
“Any assertion by those politicians you mentioned of the nature that you mentioned should be valued at the cost that you paid for it,” Mr. Carney said. “It is preposterous to politicize the Secret Service, to politicize the behavior of — the terrible conduct of some soldiers in Afghanistan, in a war that’s been going on for years.”
“What they’re doing is trying to turn these incidents, one that’s still under investigation into, you know, political advantage and obviously you recognize that, everyone here recognizes that,” he said at Friday’s White House briefing.
Mrs. Palin told Fox’s Greta Van Sustern that she was disgusted by news accounts that a Secret Service agent now linked to the Colombia scandal had previously made jokes about checking out her “backside” when she was a vice presidential candidate. She called the agent’s behavior “pretty embarrassing.”
The agent “was kind of ridiculous posting pictures and comments,” she said. “Well check this out, bodyguard. You’re fired! And I hope his wife … kicks him into the dog house.”
But Mrs. Palin also said the scandal demonstrated Mr. Obama’s poor management style.
“People will say it’s boys being boys. I’ve had enough of these men being dogs and not being responsible for the taxpayer’s dollars.”
Mr. Sessions did not back down, issuing a statement Friday afternoon calling on Mr. Obama to step in and enforce discipline and clarifying that he is concerned about the Secret Service affair, the Solyndra scandal and the abuses at the GSA, not the incident involving soldiers posing with corpses in Afghanistan.
“I don’t sense that this president has shown that kind of managerial leadership,” he said.
Mr. Sessions did not back down, issuing a statement Friday afternoon calling on Mr. Obama to step in and enforce discipline.
“The president is the CEO of the federal government and is responsible for running the entire executive branch. Essential to being an effective president is the ability to be an effective manager of an enormous budget, a multitude of agencies and a massive payroll,” he said. “Every executive staffer, department head and agency official is ultimately answerable to the president and serves at his pleasure.”
Mr. Sessions is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which was briefed by the Secret Service Friday in anticipation of a hearing next week. The Secret Service has fired three of 11 agents and officers alleged to have hired prostitutes in Colombia during an advance mission ahead of Mr. Obama’s visit there last weekend. As of late Friday, three additional Secret Service agents were expected to be fired.
Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said more people may lose their jobs — even as the White House so far has stood by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan while the investigation continues.