As I once again pick my brains and skull fragments off the walls and ceiling and get the Crazy Glue, I am decided annoyed at my head for exploding at this latest blatant example of the White House screwing up in amateurish and damaging fashion, and a respected (not by me, but you know what I mean) member of the news media taking blatantly unethical steps to try to assist in damage control. After all, the Ethics Alarms KABOOM! designation is supposed to be reserved for ethics news so outrageous or beyond the realm of plausibility that it causes rational brains to overload and blow. This story, in contrast, is typical of what has been going on for the last six years. It perfectly illustrates the destructive sequence we have seen since 2008, with evidence of Obama administration incompetence and media seeing its responsibility not as informing the country so it can make informed decisions about its government, journalism’s ethical duty, but protecting the President it worked so hard to elect. I need to solve this mystery, because head explosions are bad for my heath, not to mention the decor. Let’s look at the story, and then come back to “The Mystery Of Jack’s Exploding Head.”
From the Washington Post yesterday, in a story by reporters Greg Miller:
“The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country. The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.”
As I have pointed out, again, just recently, this isn’t an isolated incident but rather the inevitable result of the top-to-bottom incompetence in the administration assembled by Barack Obama.There are undoubtedly thousands of gaffes and botches like this, big and small, with long-term consequences and short, all over the government, all the time. Some get people killed, some will, some will help countries be ravaged by despots, some waste millions, or billions of dollars. There is so much incompetence that an outrageous amount of time, manpower and effort is being diverted to covering up the messes or trying to make sure they don’t become outright catastrophes, and this government is incompetent at that, too.
It is true that some of this is inevitable in a system so complicated and dangerously dysfunctional that breakdowns are a certainty, what I recently described as a Jurassic Park syndrome as it related to just one of the fiascos eating away at our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, the Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck. The problem, however, is multiplied many fold by having an overwhelmed, disengaged and inept leader who delegates to incompetent, arrogant amateurs hired solely based on ideological loyalty, and then abdicates his duties of management, oversight, and accountability.
The Veterans Administration’s scandal was the previous result of this. The outing of a key foreign agent is the latest. In a November 4, 2013 piece that I mercifully omitted from my recent overview of the President’s incompetence, I bolded a quote from another post from that May, and wrote:
“Four years of hyperpartisan, arrogant, irresponsible, rudder-less and badly managed government have had the predictable result, and I will be stunned if we have yet seen the worst of it.” I was not stunned, unfortunately. And we may see worse yet. We probably will.
We have. We all should be frightened. I know I am.
The fact that the nation hasn’t been figuratively (or even literally) up in arms about this is attributable to several factors. One is that a large and important demographic group, American blacks, will never, ever admit the truth about Obama, to others or themselves. This is understandable, I guess, but also tragic, and irresponsible: they alone, of all groups, could probably demand material changes and actually get them. But African-Americans have yet to move beyond group identification politics, and the Democrats, for obvious reason, have been happy to help keep them stalled in this intermediate stage of political sophistication.
Another reason is that the liberal/Democratic punditcy—I have no idea if that is a word, but I like it—is teeming with Baghdad Bobs, who persist in acting as if all the news of a rudderless government and culture falling apart in chunks are just rumors. The Post’s E. J. Dionne, for example, the very week the Veterans Administration’s deadly malpractice was exposed, after it had been widely used by Dionne and his pals as proof that the government could run a healthcare system, and shortly after it was revealed that Obamacare was distributing erroneous benefit payments and had no way to fix the problem, wrote a paene to Elizabeth Warren (he was plugging the income-redistribution-loving Senator’s book) and announced that the days of liberals apologizing were over. Perhaps he meant that the days of progressives falling to their knees and begging for forgiveness were beginning, but I doubt it.
A third factor is that a shocking number of Americans continue to judge the President on what he has said, and don’t appear to care that what he has done has no connection to his words whatsoever. For example, in 2009, Obama said in his usual ringing tones,
“We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences…”
Or maybe he just forgot to speak the part where he was supposed to say, “Watch, I’ll prove it to you over the next five years. you’ll see. It will be horrible.”
The fourth factor, of course, is the news media, which in dozens of ways, calculated and otherwise, has worked hard to keep the public misinformed and unaware of how badly the country is being managed and led, at least on the Democratic side. (I am not suggesting that it isn’t being badly led on the Republican side, only that the GOP’s incompetence tends to be fully reported, and with gusto.) The Post report on the outing of a CIA agent because the White House staff is a collection of stooges was a classic example. It did not connect the dots, as it should have, between this and the accelerating stream of governing ineptitude being revealed up and down the bureaucracy. This is because Obama benefits from the public looking at each of these gaffes as unrelated to anything else. There are kinds of brain damage that cause this style of analysis of information: the sufferer is incapable of assembling data to make a conclusion. Each piece of information can only be understood as separate from any context or other events. That’s how the news media reporting on the Obama administration encourages the public to think about its current government. Apparently this works.
In a masterstroke of deceit, the Post writer, approved by his editor, decided to try to minimize the significance of the Obama White House security botch as a serious one by first suggesting that the Bush administration had done the same, and then by suggesting that at least this mistake was inadvertent, whereas the Bush’ crew did it out of revenge and political viciousness:
“The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.”
Lies and deceit:
- Valerie Plame was not working overseas, even if one accepts the still-dubious proposition that her cover wasn’t already removed when her status was revealed. So this wasn’t a “recent case” in which the mistake was comparable. Plame was in the US; this operative is in Kabul, in physical peril.
- Plame’s status wasn’t revealed by Bush “officials,” plural, which is an attempt to make the episode look like a conspiracy, and a treasonous one. As the Post knows well, since it was a Post journalist who published the inadvertent leak it got from a single Bush official, singular, this is also a lie.
- “…Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.” Clintonian deceit: it all depends what the meaning of “as” is. The sentence is carefully constructed to make the less-informed reader–one who mercifully has forgotten the baroque details of the ridiculously overblown fake scandal involving Plame and her slimy husband—believe that those same fictional “officials,” plural, exposed Plame as political payback, a particularly nasty sort of the Mob “we know where your wife and kids are” variety. But while that was the false narrative the Post, Plame’s publicity hound husband, and Democrats hell-bent on destroying Bush and Cheney pushed for a nearly four years, it turned out to be completely untrue. Plame’s status was, by the assessment of all objective analysts, leaked accidentally with no malice whatsoever by State Department official Richard Armitage, an official, not “officials.” So what does “as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband” mean then, and why is it in the sentence? I suppose the reporter’s explanation will be that “Oh, I just meant to point out that this was going on at the same time, not to suggest that the leaking of Plame’s name was intended to discredit her husband! I also could have written, ‘Valerie Plame was exposed as actor Henry Winkler tried to chart out the next step in his post Happy Days career.’ I certainly didn’t intend to create a false impression.”
Sure you didn’t.
Still, why did all of this make my head explode? The progressive news media monolith has long been shattering all journalistic ethics rules and duties to smithereens in its efforts to elect, re-elect and protect Obama. The Post, in fact, has been less of a villain in this regard than the New York Times, which, you will be shocked to note, was just described thusly on NPR, another member of the monolith and one paid for by you and me: “An independent source of facts that people can agree on, apart from politicization.” This isn’t new, any more than the Obama White House’s incompetence is new. Nor is it the worst example of either.
I have a few theories, which I will pursue as soon as I scoop up my scattered grey matter—it’s really more pink—plop it in my skull and glue the top back on.
1. It is mind-blowing that the Post would dare remind anyone of the Plame affair, which it treated at the time as if it was another Watergate, while its writers now insist on repeating the Democratic talking point that real scandals like the Benghazi cover-up and the Obama administration’s use of the IRS for political warfare are, in Dana Milbank’s words, “nothing-burgers.” This is particularly so since a Post columnist published the leak of Plame’s status, knew it was inadvertent, and allowed over $2.5 million dollars to be spent investigating the incident, which resulted in White House aide “Scooter” Libby going to jail for obstructing justice. The Post’s position is now that a trivial non-scandal the Post itself created was worth covering extensively to smear a Republican administration, but multiple Democratic scandals involving abuse of power, incompetence, and public deception are not worth informing the public about, and efforts by Republicans to pierce the various cover-ups are just political theater.
2. Perhaps my mind was blown prospectively, as this latest example of amateurism at the top could be a pre-shock before the Big One turns California into America’s Madigascar.
3. Maybe this was the cumulative effect of reviewing the record, and realizing that not only has the public tolerated watching a great country be managed into ruin, but that there are still so many intelligent people who refuse to admit it.
4. Or maybe my brain just can’t get over the fact that the media is still, six years after he left office, trying to use President Bush to excuse and minimize Obama’s failure.
I don’t know. I can’t think straight until the Crazy Glue sets. (Note to self—maybe something called Crazy Glue isn’t the best stuff to use on brains. Oh well, too late now…)
Source: Washington Post