Secretary of Commerce John Bryson has had a hard week. While driving unattended in San Gabriel, northeast of Los Angeles, Bryson appears to have suffered a seizure and to have needed medical attention.
Secretary Bryson struck a car in the rear that had stopped for a passing train. After speaking with the three people in the car and getting back into his own vehicle, he hit the car again as he was leaving. The other car actually followed him while they called the police. Then, he hit another car in nearby Rosemead where he was found unconscious.
There are a number of strange details to the entire episode. First of all, it seems odd that someone of this caliber, who is 10th in line to the president’s seat, simply drives around by himself in his own free time.
The White House communications department remained extremely tight-lipped after the Saturday night accidents. Even during Press Secretary Jay Carney’s briefing on Monday morning, he continued to refer the press to the Commerce Department and refused to answer any questions about Secretary Bryson’s health or the interactions that the President had with the Secretary after the incident.
Towards the end of the briefing, Carney revealed that the President didn’t even know about the accident until Monday morning – almost 36 hours after the Commerce Secretary had been hospitalized, and basically at the same time that the public learned of the situation.
An announcement only came at 10pm on Monday evening declaring that Secretary Bryson would be taking a leave of absence.
Finally, as far as White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest has explained to reporters, Obama didn’t even speak with Secretary Bryson until Tuesday morning. During their short conversation, Obama urged him to focus on his own health and his family.
Many are left to wonder if the relationship between Obama and Secretary Bryson is so strained that it doesn’t seem unusual for Obama to call only two and a half days after the accident, and to be informed of the situation only 36 hours after it occurred. Or, is Bryson’s health impaired enough that Obama couldn’t talk to him sooner?