The Obama Way of Duplicity
Q. I’m intrigued by the way President Obama performs on television. He may lie but he does it so convincingly he could pass a lie detector test. Is this style something new in politics or what? Take for instance his recent appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
A. Understand, all politicians shade the truth. The greatest advocate for one side of an equation I ever knew was Hubert Humphrey. Reporting for the Associated Press for his first reelection in 1954, I rode (in the back seat of his campaign car) for three weeks, recording fastidiously everything he said on an average of 13 stump speeches a day. But Hubert (of whom I became exceedingly fond-apart from his politics) was confident that he could make his case…faulty as it may be… with unassailable statistics that could not be challenged (his conclusions could be, but not his encyclopedic command of statistics).
The case of Obama, a graduate of the Chicago School of Lying and Deception is far different. The Chicago School borrows from the old Marxist view of truth as refined by two Leftist philosophers, Noam Chomsky-Herbert Marcuse who argued this: truth is not absolute; it can be twisted conveniently to serve the interest of the arguer for “great good” i.e. political victory. In other words the statement “1 plus 1 equals 2” and “snow is white” can be denied if not in the political interest of a “progressive” political advocate. No one employs the Chomsky-Marcuse strategy more than Mayor Richard M. Daley…who has picked it up from his more sophisticated Lefty advisers…although if he were asked who Chomsky and Marcuse are, he’d guess they’re precinct captains in the 50th ward.
Example: Daley insists repeatedly “there is no machine in Chicago.” Even the supine media attending his news conference roll their eyes at that one. His father, Richard J. would take a more honorable tack. He’d not deny the machine exists and would point out how it served the interest of “good, fine family men and women.” See what I mean? Old man Daley would never use the Chomsky-Marcuse tactic even if he knew about it because, well, it struck his basically conservative soul as barefaced lies…and besides, he figured he could make the case for his machine: which in fact he did. He was brilliant: really was.
Once in the summer of 1966 when Martin Luther King walked in on a Daley news conference and announced to everyone and on TV: “I am Martin Luther King and I come from the west side of Chicago where hundreds go to bed hungry every night!” Daley responded as a precinct captain would: “Give me their names!” King couldn’t. Daley said: “See? He doesn’t know the first thing about Chicaga! He can’t give any names! That proves he don’t know what he’s talkin’ about!” King left that confrontation a beaten man. Ergo: Daley didn’t deny there was poverty here nor that some people went to bed hungry. He just said: “Give me their names” and King couldn’t.
Now consider how Barack Obama, the smoothest article to become involved in politics in two generations, employs the Marxist-flavored Chomsky-Marcuse dialectic.
Last week in a day-long Sunday television blitz he appeared on ABC’s This Week. His interrogator was George Stephanopoulos, the network’s Washington bureau chief who, as everybody knows, was Bill Clinton’s de facto press secretary until he got bounced upstairs in favor of Dee Dee Myers because he made too many gaffes. Stephanopoulos was so candid as press guy he got into trouble with his boss because at bottom he is controlled by a rough intellectual honesty: he is the son of a Greek Orthodox priest who himself thought seriously for a long time about going to the seminary himself. His innate honesty got him into a rough colloquy with Obama which Obama seemed…to innocent TV viewers…to win-but which he won by totally dishonest means, using the Chomsky-Marcuse strategy that bends truth for its immediate end.
Midway in the interview the subject turned to the Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) version of the universal health bill…a version that Obama has endorsed. Stephanopoulos pointed to a provision of the bill which states that everyone would be forced to buy health insurance or pay a penalty as high as $3,800 a year for a family of four. Stephanopoulos said correctly that the mandate constitutes a tax which is certainly what it is. But Obama has said that he would not favor a tax that would hit the poorest of Americans. So what did Obama do? Hubert Humphrey, take my word for it, would have used 1,000 words to justify inclusion of the provision, saying that while it departed from what he wished, the tax would achieve a maximum of benefit for the commonweal. Not Obama.
Obama reached for the Chomsky-Marcuse tactic which says the truth must be turned on its head to be serviceable to the cause of “progressivism.” Obama said the mandate is not a tax! Let us go now to the transcript for this colloquy is vitally interesting: it shows how the New Left has departed from the Old Liberal Democratic playbook. As I just said: Obama denied it is a tax.
Here he’s using Stephanopoulos figuratively as one who doesn’t have health insurance.
OBAMA: [Suppose] you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s–.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.
OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The-for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you, anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I-I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: Tax-“a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes…. But it may be fair. It may be good public policy-.
OBAMA: No, but-but, George, you-you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t think I’m making it up…
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now…
Play that back to me again? Because one looks up a definition that verifies his first impression-that it’s a tax increase-he’s “stretching?”
Was the dictionary stretching? That’s pure Marx filtered through Chomsky and Marcuse’s Far-Far Left philosophic rationalization that says this: Everything is serviceable including lies converted to truth to achieve one’s forensic ends.
The dialogue continued:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it’s a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.
Now let’s look up the actual relevant language of the bill on page 29.
As researched by Philip Klein of The American Spectator, it says:
“The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax. The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed [emphasis added].
So, the bill says clearly the mandate is a tax. Obama got away with denying it and was on his way to the next telecast without any correction being made. Again: according to the Marxist dialectic that truth is what you say it is at a precise moment and nothing more, not only was Obama straight-facedly declaring a dictionary definition of a word a falsehood…he was ignoring his own past opposition of the mandate-tax idea when he was debating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries. This is what he said then (he wasn’t calling the mandate a tax but was terribly, terribly concerned over its affect on…you guessed it…the poor):
“If, in fact, you are going to mandate the purchase of insurance and it’s not affordable, then there’s going to have to have to be an enforcement mechanism that the government uses. And they may charge people, who already don’t have health care, fines or have to take it out of their paychecks. And that, I don’t think, is helping those without health insurance…I think we can anticipate that there would also be people potentially who are not covered and are actually hurt if they have a mandate imposed on them.”
See what I mean about the two styles…the old fashioned Hubert Humphrey style of arguing from the unassailable point of fact and the Obama style? Obama-style is pure Chomsky-Marcuse which is also pursued by the mayor of Chicago in denying snow is white and 2 plus 2 equals four. The only other time it was used by a president before was by Bill Clinton when he was testifying before the grand jury and the questioning turned to Monica Lewinsky. He said “well, that depends on what the meaning of the word `is’ is.” He was in a tough spot, trying to avoid being found guilty of perjury for which he could be impeached (as he ultimately was) while at the same time denying that an affair existed.
Q. This isn’t about lying but changing policy direction depending on who one’s working for. How do you categorize the decision Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made by changing direction on the missile shield in Europe? Three years ago under President Bush he signed off on an ambitious program to build a new missile shield in Europe. Two weeks later he supported the Surge in Iraq and sent additional troops over there. Now working for President Obama he recommended jettisoning his own missile shield and is reportedly siding with the president not to send more troops to Afghanistan. Did the situation change?
A. Naw, it’s just the case of an utterly weak defense secretary who will do anything to agree with his boss. Essentially, Gates opposed the Iraq Surge until he lifted his forefinger in the wind and got the drift that his boss wanted it…so Gates changed. The decision panned out well and the Iraq War was stabilized. Now Obama doesn’t want to be tagged with “owning” the Afghanistan war the way LBJ “owned” Vietnam. So swivel-conscience Gates goes along with his boss. Notice how the administration’s Iago, Rahm Emanuel, praises the ultra-flexible Gates: “The president values what secretary Gates says-and not just values, he knows what he brings to the table is 30 years of experience in Democratic and Republican administrations.” Which is a lot of bosh.
Gates just wants to stay employed as secretary of defense and has mastered the technique of agreeing with his boss. Nothing Chomsky-Marcuse there: just gutless expediency, a common commodity in both Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington. At least you have to compare Gates unfavorably to Don Rumsfeld…an Illinois friend of mine for many years… who so disagreed with the Surge that he resigned-although practically he wouldn’t budge so he was fired. Rummy turned out to be wrong strategically but at least he followed his conscience.
One great defense secretary was Cap Weinberger whom I knew slightly (he had been on the Quaker Oats board). He and George Shultz came from the same company, Bechtel, but once in the Reagan administration they fought like animals, Shultz, the secretary of state and ex-Marine wanted a more bellicose defense department and Weinberger resisted Shultz’s pleadings for military incursions, saying the only time you send troops anywhere is when you feel strongly you can win. Shultz grumbled to Reagan that Weinberger was like General McClellan in the Civil War, always building up reserves but loathe to fight. Reagan kept his cool and stuck with Weinberger.
Q. You think the Obama-Gates decision to scrap the ground-based missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic was a sign of weakness…or a move to “smart policy” of more flexibility that your Illinois friend Don Rumsfeld would have approved of?
A. I don’t know if Don would approve of it or not until he writes his memoirs but I think it’s a terrible decision. Poland and the Czechs have thought so much of us that they have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan helping us! I say this cynically: that’ll teach them to like us! They help us and we pull out our missiles! And we announce this on…get this…the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland: how’s that for irony? If behind the scenes we had an agreement with the Russians to join us on strong sanctions on Iran and to stop sending anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, perhaps…with a stretch…it could be justified. But there’s no likelihood of such a deal.
Q. Then we’re weaker in our defenses in comparison to what we were when Bush was in?
A. Don’t get me started. We would be much safer here with a defensive shield system in Poland and the Czech Republic than with the missile system in California and Alaska…which, by the way, the penurious Obama administration has already cut back on in an effort to save money. With Secretary Gates’ concurrence, of course.
Q. You’ve depressed me too much, let’s end this colloquy right now.
A. As you wish. Sleep well tonight.
Tom Roeser is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer
image Janus, the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings, and politicians