By Larry Gordon
Sure, people care about what happens with this country, the state and city they live in, their community, and certainly their neighborhood. But not all that much. Things happen; new laws and policies get introduced that can alter our lives and cost a great deal of money. But we are busy with everyday struggles, our jobs, and our personal lives. And President Obama and the people who make policy in his administration know that.
They know that we care and will even be vocal about issues that are dear to us and that we may even be emotional about. But no matter what it is, it seems that after a few days we absorb the change, whatever it may be, and our lives proceed. They go on with the same old scraps and challenges that we have to confront daily.
To some people, this is what makes Barack Obama a great president, while to others this shrewd and even devious approach is the harbinger of the downfall of American greatness. It is in a way a reversal of fortune, both literally and figuratively, for many.
There are many instances to cite that illustrate this exploitation of what looks like a national form of some kind of attention deficit. The president and his people have used this approach in their responses about the attack on Benghazi that killed four American personnel, including our ambassador to Libya. They used it with the IRS scandal. And now they are doing it again with the disastrous rollout of what has become known as ObamaCare, as well as with as a half dozen other matters.
The president tried to do the same thing in his first administration with Israel, specifically by trying to undermine and marginalize Prime Minister Netanyahu and force his own vision of the Middle East upon us all. In that instance there was some pushback from the well-organized supporters of Israel in this country, but that doesn’t mean he is not going to try that same tactic again as his second term in office rolls on. It is important to be on the lookout for that.
The Obama administration is throwing up its hands and distancing itself from the Wild West ways of the Middle East. They do not want to hear that after a ten-year U.S. military presence and the significant loss of blood and treasure, Iraq is imploding. The people in the administration are not interested in what will happen to Libya, Bahrain, or Yemen. Since they cannot figure out what is going on in Egypt, they are backing away from that country too. In Iran they are hoping to engage the ayatollahs and their appointed spin doctors and put the best face on negotiations even as Iran pursues nuclear capabilities.
And what is there to say about Obama’s contortionist approach to Syria? Here he is attacking the Syrians to teach them a serious lesson about the use or misuse of chemical weapons. Then he does an unabashed reverse, withdrawing the threat of attack. The Assad regime in Syria has now stopped killing its citizens with chemical weapons. Now they are murdering them every day by the dozens and often more, but they are doing so with conventional weapons and bombings. Mission accomplished, I guess you can say.
The only area in the Middle East that the president will not let go of is Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Not that he knows what is going on there either, but in this case he is determined to at least pretend that the parties, with his help, are on the road to a fair and equitable peace.
The Obama administration has one consistent policy on all the above areas. And that is the general dumbness and disinterest in the details of these situations by the American people, especially those who voted to reelect Mr. Obama. This is evident in many of these situations but hardly any more so than on the matter of the murder of the ambassador and three security personnel in Libya a little more than a year ago.
This is the pattern on these matters. First, the administration feigns complete ignorance. A State Department spokesman or the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, is sent out to try to mislead the press. If they are able to accomplish that, then they are fairly confident that fooling the public will be pretty smooth and easy.
Just consider what the administration has so far gotten away with on the year-old attack in Libya. Their first reaction or deliberate effort to mislead was to say that the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to an amateur video that went viral and mocked Islam and Muhammad. The objective here was for us—that is, the American people—to blame ourselves for what happened to our people over there.
Then when it became increasingly clear that this explanation was nothing but a ruse, Plan B was instituted. And this is the standard administration option that has since been used in many subsequent cases. First they say that the president had no idea about what was going on. Yes, perhaps he should have been informed but it was determined at the time to allow his subordinates, the professionals, to deal with the situation. This line of deceptive reasoning says that the president cannot be burdened with every detail of everything that happens all over our rather large world.
Some believe, however, that when your ambassador’s life is in danger it is not misplaced to inform the president. When the video sham was discovered, White House spokesman Carney goes out there to say that what exactly happened is under investigation. When the investigation is completed, he usually says, the American people will then be fully informed and the U.S. will seek to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Then time passes. We get busy with a series of presidential debates and a national election. We turn around and wake up or perhaps things settle down and a reporter at the daily White House briefing has the presence of mind to ask about Benghazi. At this point Mr. Carney looks surprised and says something like, “Oh, Benghazi, but that happened such a long time ago.” He doesn’t understand why it is being brought up. It is now just a piece of unfortunate history that we have to somehow get over. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from and questioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the matter. She annoyingly said, “What difference does it make what happened?” American diplomatic personnel were killed because the administration ignored reports of an impending attack to coincide with 9/11. And we the people are to forget about it and it’s annoying when we don’t.
The same approach was used with the IRS scandal. We were told that the president found out about the IRS abuse of politically right-wing organizations when watching the news on television. And we were supposed to believe this even though the head of the IRS visited the White House 140 times—more than any other government official—during Obama’s first term.
And now with the international snooping of the National Security Agency we are being asked to believe that even though the electronic communications of 35 world leaders, including those of Germany and France, were monitored by the NSA, the president was unaware that any of this was taking place.
On Israel and where the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are up to, he seems to be kept abreast of and know every detail. He is just about ready to walk away frustrated with every Arab country, including Saudi Arabia that has had its fill of the Obama zigzagging and duplicity, especially on the Syrian issue.
There is no question that being cagey and indulging in a lot of doublespeak is standard fare in politics today. But just plain misleading and lying to people straight away, as the president has done on his healthcare rollout, is another matter entirely. The common denominator in all this is that the people are either distracted—and that goes for us in the Jewish community as well—or they just don’t care all that much.
And if they do care dearly about an issue, whether it is Israel, the IRS, or ObamaCare, after a week or so the intensity their concern lessens and the administration can then go on doing what they intended in the first place. If someone raises an objection, Obama officials will be instructed to wonder aloud, “Why are you concerned about that now? Like Benghazi or the IRS, that is all ancient history and, as they say, water under the bridge.”
So the bet is that no one cares and that we care more about Sunday football games, the start of the NBA season, and maybe even the World Series and which restaurant we are going to eat in or where the next party is.
So after 46 years, this is why Secretary of State John Kerry and the president can still talk about Israel withdrawing to 1967 borders and the potential displacement or at least movement of over 600,000 Jews. The bet is that we are busy and distracted and that at the end of the day not that many people really care all that much. v
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.