Sometimes I’m truly blown away with how a friendly reporter will spin what is clearly something wrong committed by a powerful leader and turn it into some virtue. No recent example is more jaw dropping than this line from a recent New York Times report about Obama’s use of drones written by Jo Becker and Scott Shane.
A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.
What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes. They reflected a still unfamiliar Barack Obama, a realist who, unlike some of his fervent supporters, was never carried away by his own rhetoric. Instead, he was already putting his lawyerly mind to carving out the maximum amount of maneuvering room to fight terrorism as he saw fit.
This is a simply shameful line bordering on outright propaganda. A person is never going to be “carried away” by their own rhetoric. It is their rhetoric after all. Instead it is supposed to be their public statement of principles and promises that all of us should expect them to live up to. On this issue Obama didn’t live up to the letter or spirit of his rhetoric; he just lied, or at the very least he actively misled or deceived voters. Those are the words that should be use to describe this situation, not “realist.”
If Obama always thought these “realist” policies were best, he had the democratic duty to actually run on them instead of actively hiding them from voters. If after taking office Obama thought realities on the ground called for him to break his promise, he should be called to account. He should first be forced to knowledge he broke our trust and than try to defend why he felt he needed to do so.
It is sickening to treat some nebulous group of “fervent supporters” as the ones in the wrong for actually believing Obama when he made promises to them. Politicians are only rarely called to account for breaking their promises, but to have reporters spin breaking a promise as some true virtue of toughness is part of what is deeply wrong with our politics. The powerful grant special interviews to the media and not only are their faults ignored but they’re transformed into proofs of greatness.