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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Unreality of the Past Four Years

The Benghazi fiasco is a brutally illuminating portrait of the Obama White House in crisis mode.

In the 1967 film "A Guide for the Married Man," a husband, played by a peerless Walter Matthau, is given lessons in ways to cheat on his wife safely. The most essential rule: "Deny! Deny! Deny!"—no matter what. In an instructive scene, he's shown a wife undone by shock, and screaming, with reason: She has just walked in on her husband making love to a glamorous stranger.

"What are you doing," she wails, "who is that woman?"

"What woman, where?" the husband serenely counters, as he and the tart in question get out of bed and calmly dress.

So the scene proceeds, with the distraught wife pointing to the woman she clearly sees before her, while her husband, unruffled, continues to look blankly at her, asking, "What woman?" Confused by her spouse's unblinking assurance, she gives up. Two minutes later she's asking him what he'd like for dinner.

For much of the past four years, the Obama administration's propensity for asserting views of reality wildly at odds with those evident to most rational citizens has looked increasingly like a page from that film script.

All administrations conceal, falsify and tell lies—this is understood—but there's no missing the distinctive quality of the prevaricating issuing from the White House in these four years.

It's a quality on vivid display now in the administration's mesmerizing narrative of the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Here's a memorable picture, its detail brutally illuminating, of Obama and company in crisis mode over their conflicting stories about who knew what when. The resulting costs to truth-telling and sanity, or even the appearance thereof, are clear. Nor can we forget the strong element of farce—think U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on those five Sunday talk shows, reciting with unflagging fervor that official talking point regarding mob violence and a YouTube video. Farce, but no one is laughing.

Team Obama clung to its original story—the attack had come spontaneously at the hands of a mob enraged by that now famous video insulting to the Prophet—long after it was clear that it had been an organized terrorist assault by an al Qaeda affiliate. By Tuesday's debate, we saw a Barack Obama in high dudgeon over suggestions that his office might have deliberately misrepresented the facts. It was, he fumed, an intolerable insult that such charges could have been made about him, the president who had had to receive the bodies of the slain Americans—and who then had to set about getting to the bottom of this murderous terror assault.

Profound and urgent concerns indeed—which, the president neglected to say, had not prevented him from jetting off to his fundraiser in Las Vegas the day after the murders. His administration was not given to politicizing serious matters, the president sternly informed the nation in that second debate: "That's not what we do."

Good to know. Americans might otherwise have gotten the wrong impression in the past four years, not least from Attorney General Eric Holder, who heads the most openly politicized Justice Department in the nation's history. Among his more recent noteworthy pronouncements, this one relevant to the coming election, Mr. Holder declared that photo ID requirements intended to prevent voting fraud were nothing less than a "poll tax." He was referring to an infamous institution from the days of Jim Crow, whose aim was to suppress black voting. Mr. Holder—so famously fastidious about group sensibilities that he has never been able to bring himself to utter any description identifying a terrorist as Muslim—has apparently had no inhibitions about smearing whole segments of the population as racists.

Read the full column

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