Someone needs to go check the cable connections at the White House, because the comms department clearly hasn’t watched TV or read the internet in the past month.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest executed what may be the most impressive whiff in recent memory. ABC News White House Correspondent Jon Karl asked a very pointed question about how Yemen’s place in the war on terror has changed, given the fall of the Hadi government and subsequent withdrawal of US troops.

Earnest’s response? The White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to have local fighters take the fight to extremists in their own country.

Watch:

Jon Karl proceeded to say what everyone else in the room was thinking:

“That’s astounding,” Karl replied. “You still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this a model for counterterrorism?”

Earnest argued that the efforts in Yemen had tamped down on the terror threat against the U.S. and better positioned the government to fight insurgent groups, something Karl didn’t buy.

“We do continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustained counterterrorism security relationship with the security infrastructure that remains in Yemen,” Earnest said. “There are elements of the Yemeni government that we continue to be in touch with that continue to further our efforts to apply pressure to extremists that seek to operate in that country.

Earnest said that “there’s no doubt that we’d like to see a functioning central government in Yemen…”

Yes? And?

Welcome to the State of Denial, America.

Meanwhile…war:

According to Al Jazeera sources, the strikes carried out by 100 jets from Saudi and its coalition, have destroyed Iranian-made missile launchers in the capital Sanaa.

Houthi military barracks and air bases controlled by the rebels were also reportedly destroyed, Fayez al-Duweiri, a retired Jordanian general and defence analyst, told Al Jazeera.

The Houthi-run health ministry in Sanaa said that at least 18 civilians were killed and 24 others were wounded in the Saudi-led attacks on the capital.

The bombing of the Houthis, who are said to be backed by Iran, a charge Tehran denies, came after several weeks of warnings that Yemen was descending into civil war.

At this point, what “we’d like to see” is 100% irrelevant. If these airstrikes work, and Hadi is reinstated, we’re still dealing with a 3-pronged insurgency hostile to that government. If it fails…devolution? Civil war at the very least.

You can peruse Legal Insurrection’s body of work covering Yemen here.