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Obama's Talking Points

3:34 PM, Nov 9, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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It was too much to hope, I suppose, that Army Chief of Staff George Casey, appearing on the Sunday talk shows, would signal a re-thinking of the regime of political correctness that seems to have penetrated the Army. It was disappointing that he reinforced that regime with his silly-and offensive-remarks about not letting "diversity" be a further casualty of the events at Ft. Hood, and his warning against a backlash directed at Muslim soldiers. A little more concern for the real casualties of jihadism, and a little less finger-wagging about a hypothetical backlash, would have been nice. As it was, Casey's remarks merely reinforced the sense that the Army has a political correctness problem.

So Casey's talking points-repeated almost verbatim on three talk shows-were deplorable. But, one has to ask, were they his? Did he come up with them? It seems unlikely he did.

Any administration official speaking on a topic of such interest would undoubtedly run what he planned to say by his superiors, who in this case would surely run them by the White House. And in this case, with President Obama himself, and Robert Gibbs on his behalf, already having weighed in on the topic, there would normally be a top-down dissemination of talking points to officials speaking publicly to ensure administration-wide consistency. Indeed, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in Abu Dhabi, said something very similar to what Casey had to say the same day. So there was clearly administration coordination from high-up at the White House with respect to the diversity/backlash message.

That's fine. Administrations are entitled to coordinate messages coming from different cabinet agencies. But let's be clear: The diversity/backlash message is President Obama's, not merely that of General Casey or Secretary Napolitano.