The State Department’s Stuart Jones has a long title: Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. It’s almost as long as the excruciating pause he took when, at a routine press briefing, he was asked about the double standard of the U.S. criticizing corrupt elections in Iran, but not Saudi Arabia. Watch this shit:
That is an ACTUAL 18-second pause from the end of the question to the start of the answer. And it feels like even longer, because 18 seconds of silent grasping is an eternity. When he finally came up with an answer, the silence seemed preferable:
“I think what we say is that, uh, at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC partners and, uh, both make a strong statement against extremism and also, um, and also putting in, putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism.”
“Clearly one source of extremism – one source – one terrorism threat is coming from Iran. And that’s coming from a part of the Iranian apparatus that is not at all responsive to its electorate.”
Yikes. I like to think that in the silence, Jones was thinking seriously about throwing caution to the wind, agreeing with the reporter, and for once in his life being honest in a dramatic stand against the hypocritical relationship we share with the Saudis. And then, finally, he thought about the consequences, what it might cost him and his family, and sputtered out that lame half-answer. But, just for a second, I like to believe there was a profound crisis of faith.
Of course, I’m almost certainly wrong—odds are, he’s just really bad at his job. Which is why he fits in so well with the current administration.