Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Frontiers In Obfuscation

At the coarsest level of categorization, there are three kinds of answers to a question:

  • I know, and I'll tell you;
  • I know, but I can't (or won't) tell you;
  • I don't know.

But there are times when giving an answer plainly recognizable as one of those kinds is politically unpalatable. This is often the case when a politician aspiring to high(er) office knows that candor about his position on the subject at hand would cost him votes.

There's an anecdote about President Dwight Eisenhower that runs as follows: He was preparing for a press conference one day in March of 1955, when Jim Hagerty, his press secretary, warned him that the crisis in the Formosa Strait was guaranteed to come up. Hagerty went on to caution Ike that he dared not be candid in his answers about questions on that subject -- particularly whether he was willing to use nuclear weapons to prevail there. Ike grinned and replied, "Don't worry Jim, if that question comes up, I'll just confuse them." Which he proceeded to do, apparently to satisfactory effect.

Eisenhower was an exceptionally good man, and a better president than most of the historians care to admit. But like most men in high positions, he had mastered the art of replying to an uncomfortable question with something superficially responsive but utterly incomprehensible. There are times when that's the right approach; candor, like most other qualities men admire, is not appropriate to every imaginable situation. Ike, the Supreme Commander who led the Allied forces to victory in Europe, was well aware that it's necessary to conceal one's intentions now and then.

Now and then. Not always. Not on important subjects where straight answers are urgently needed for the health of the body politic. Especially not when you're asked what you meant by something you said in recent memory, to an audience, with the cameras on you. Double-especially not when your questioner is attempting to gauge your honesty and sincerity.

A president well established as trustworthy can afford to bob and weave in response to a question where the disclosure of his intentions would be dangerous. The nation has already learned to trust him. They're ready and willing to rely upon him to do what he thinks is right, when he thinks the time is right -- and if he's been in the public eye long enough, they'll be able to anticipate his decisions in adequate detail.

A president well established as shifty and unpredictable gets a far shorter shrift.

Recent statements by Barack Hussein Obama, unfortunately the president of these United States until January 20, 2017, have so puzzled and worried the nation that nothing but the firmest, plainest statements of intent could even begin to repair the damage they've done. To be as kind as possible about it, such statements of intent have yet to arrive. Indeed, the public-relations apparatuses of the White House and the State Department appear to have linked rhetorical shields, determined against all odds that no clear statements of intent shall issue from any of them. In other words, with regard to ISIS, Ukraine, the southern border crisis, the millions of illegal aliens already within the U.S., and several other subjects, the Administration does not want the public to know what it intends to do.

Or might it be a slightly different way? Might it be the case that, as with Eisenhower in responding to the question about nukes in the Formosa Strait, the Administration has no clear intent of any sort on these publicly sensitive subjects, and simply wishes to deflect all queries about them? There's no way for anyone outside the Administration's deliberations to know. Given the relentlessly political focus of the Obama White House -- nothing ever matters nearly as much to The Won as an upcoming election -- suspicion of low motives comes easily.

Obama himself is a "lame duck." He can't (legally) extend his tenure in office; indeed, given the battering he's taken these past five and a half years, it's questionable that he would want to. With the November elections looking mighty poor for the Evil Party, perhaps his new intensity of obfuscatory responses is his way of "taking one for the team." Considering how little interest he displays in the duties that go with those endless rounds of golf and taxpayer-funded vacations, the need to avoid speaking plainly probably doesn't trouble him much.

But the Law of Unintended Consequences is self-enforcing; Obama can't nullify it by executive order. One of the unintended consequences of his new policy of unresponsive responses is the interviewer interruption. Obama's recent interview with Chuck Todd provides a good case in point. Todd, frustrated by Obama's evasions and unwilling (at long last) to permit The Won to "run out the clock" with a long, unresponsive ramble intended to delete the original question from viewers' memories, interrupted the president repeatedly, straining to sharpen the points on his questions such that an evasion would be too plain, and too self-wounding for Obama to attempt.

Inasmuch as Todd has been one of the Administration's defenders up to now, this change in his behavior toward Obama is significant. Of equal significance are the recent attempts -- so far, unsuccessful -- by poll reporters at Josh Earnest's, Jen Psaki's and Marie Harf's conferences to compel those spokesmen to answer yes or no.

Pictures of a smiling, waving George W. Bush captioned "Miss Me Yet?" have been in circulation for a while. And it is certain that many Americans who were dubious about certain of his policies, as I was, miss him as much for his character as for his sense of his duty and dedication to it. There's this as well: men of character tend to choose men of character to work with them. Though Dubya's spokesmen had the same duty to protect the Administration as Obama's have, they were far more candid, far more willing to give an "I know, but I can't (or won't) tell you" answer, than anyone since them. Even so, they were always as courtly as circumstances would permit. It will be a long time indeed before any president selects a press secretary as unfailingly pleasant and gracious as the late, much lamented Tony Snow.

Given the colossal failures of every Obamunist policy, in particular the collapse of the international Pax Americana from protracted malicious neglect, two and a half more years of misdirection and obfuscation from the White House is unavoidable. Which makes an awakened, alert, even angry press corps, determined to know the facts in their entirety and relentless about probing for them along every imaginable avenue, all the more critical to the health and future of these United States.


Boon Vickerson is out there said...

Sublime Francis, Sublime.

You are awesome, I hope you never stop. If for no other reason there is at one fellow you have enlightened and inspired.
Thank you from my heart.

Anonymous said...

Have the press finally awakened? It seems as if they've been missing for the past six years, ever since they began swooning over the Won...

Francis W. Porretto said...

Thank you, Boon. You're far too kind.

Anon: This might be the sense of self-preservation kicking in at long last. The entire journalistic corps knows its trade to be endangered -- in large part by its practitioners' refusal to report facts instead of tendentiously framed propaganda. Treating Obama with kid gloves is part of their problem. Perhaps they've come to see that.

Steady Steve said...

Perhaps they will get mad enough to start doing some long overdue investigative reporting on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the IRS scandals. We can only hope.

Boon Vickerson is out there said...

There is another perspective to consider. Like everything involving the lies and social engineering these clowns and fools are willing partaking in, read willful conscious destruction of a system and culture of liberty and rule of law, in simplest terms, careful what you wish for.
Tyranny, statism what have you is its own worst enemy. And those who enable it are the most self destructive humans imaginable. Not for nothing, we are talking about psychopaths and at the very best sociopaths, and that is being generous. I mean think about it. In the entire sphere of your life, who do you know personally who lies and deceives, fabricates and manipulates millions of their fellow Americans? I'm asking, would you be friends with these kinds of nasty mentally retarded people? Would you tolerate their intrusions and manipulations in your life and liberty? Would you put up with their bullshit?
Well that is who is doing what is being done to us. The whole lot of them, politicians, banksters, government officials, media hacks etc.