Is this the new politics Barack Obama promised to bring to Washington? His hand-picked DNC Chairman just went on national TV and denied that the Obama administration requested Georgetown University to cover up the IHS monogram representing the name of Christ. Confronted with a CNSNews.com article flatly reporting that such a request had indeed been made, Tim Kaine resorted to the hoary dodge of claiming he hadn't seen the story. Adding insult to injury, Kaine even claimed to be ignorant of CNSNews.com itself, NewsBusters' sister organization.
Kaine made his credulity-busting claims during a Morning Joe appearance today.
MIKA BRZEZINKI: During the president's speech at Georgetown, I guess the White House asked the university to cover the religious symbol that would be in the shot with him . . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The sign was actually the sign of Jesus.
BRZEZINSKI: What do you think, Governor Tim Kaine, about this, and how it helps or hurts the Democrats? What do you make of this story?
TIM KAINE: Well, look, I'm a great Catholic like probably Joe and some others on this show. The way I heard this was the White House asked, in terms of doing the speech at Georgetown, that they wanted American flags as a backdrop. I don't know that they were choosy about what room it was in or what else was there, but they wanted American flags as a backdrop and so the university and the event organizers put up American flags. There wasn't a request specifically to cover up any religious symbols or statues, as I understand it. Now, I haven't followed this too closely [rig-h-h-h-t], but that was just kind of my understanding, it's kind of a standard backdrop for presidential speeches is American flags.
SCARBOROUGH: Wasn't there a black, there was a black triangle, wasn't there? [WaPo editorialist] Jonathan Capehart?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: A black plywood cover, which you can see over the president's shoulder there. Which was, they wanted to cover the organ pipes and also the IHS symbol of Jesus that was behind the president.
SCARBOROUGH: It sounds like from what we're seeing, from what Mika just handed me, that there was a White House request specifically to cover up the Jesus sign, and there's a black, a huge black triangle covering that sign up. Is that a mistake by the White House?
KAINE: Well, again, my understanding is that they wanted the American flags and that's the backdrop they want for speeches, and that was the request made of Georgetown. I haven't seen information from Georgetown complaining about it, so, I'm hearing it from you guys but as you know when the president gives speeches, American flags are the tradition backdrop used.
CAPEHART: Governor Kaine, in the story that we're looking at, it says, quote: "the White House asked Georgetown to cover a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name at Gaston Hall, which Pres. Obama used for his speech." This is according to CNSNews.com. Do you think this is unusual for the White House to call on an institution, a religious institution like Georgetown, even though it's a higher-education institution, to do something like this?
KAINE: Well, I'd have to check, I'd have to check who CNSNews.com is and check the source there. I didn't hear you mention any names, etc. So again, you know, you're running something by me from a news source I'm not familiar with. Again, my understanding of this from end of the day yesterday was just what I said: that the White House has a common tradition of using American flags as the backdrop to speeches.
Interesting that the Tim Kaine would purport to be unfamiliar with a news institution based in Virginia, the state of which he is governor. When he gets around to reading the story, he'll find that CNS did identify a source by name [emphasis added]:
“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told CNSNews.com."