On a secret flight to Kabul a few weeks back, Gen. Jim Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor cracked a joke at the expense of Afghan president Hamid Karzai in an on-the-record briefing with reporters. The White House opted not to put out a transcript of the conversation, so I transcribed the relevant part here on Swampland, including Press Secretary’s immediate response: “No, no, no.”
Last week, the comedy continued, when Jones appeared before the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, with a joke about a “Taliban warrior” and a “Jewish merchant.”
The joke was not included in a released White House transcript of Jones’ remarks. But it still got out. The Anti-Defamation League called the joke “inappropriate” and “stereotypic.” Jones has since apologized, as Massimo Calabresi recounts in a Time.com story today. He notes that the timing of the joke is all wrong:
The problem is the U.S. and Israel are in what the Israeli ambassador to Washington is reported to have recently described as the worst crisis in 30 years, driven largely by substantive differences about how to pursue peace — but amplified by public distrust.
Which is to say, not many people in the White House are laughing.