The Obama Watch

Tim Geithner’s True Lies

Geithner book adds to portrait of White House deception.

By 5.13.14

UPI
Send to Kindle

Instead of Stress Test, perhaps Tim Geithner should have borrowed the title for his memoirs from that old Arnold Schwarzenegger flick — True Lies.

Hello? Can you say “pattern”?

Former Obama Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner had nothing — so far as we know — to do with Benghazi.

Yet here is Geithner, with his new book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises:

The White House wanted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to lie on Sunday talk shows to downplay the part Social Security played in driving the deficit, it was revealed today.

Geithner writes in his memoir Stress Test, out today, that the White House communications director asked him to downplay the long term cost of Social Security spending to mollify the Democratic Party's base.

“I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn’t contribute to the deficit. It wasn't a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute,” he says.

“Pfeiffer said the line was a ‘dog whistle’ to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security.”

So. According to Geithner himself, Geithner — the Secretary of the Treasury — was being told to look the American people straight in the eye via television…and lie.

Back there in the wilderness year of 2009, a similar problem was noted in this space about another Obama aide — this one Linda Douglass, then the former ABC reporter-turned Obama Communications Director for the White House Office of Health Reform. At this point, the battle was not over on whether Obamacare would pass or not. Video tapes had surfaced of Senator Obama saying in 2007 that his real objective was not, as he was saying in 2009, that Americans could keep their health insurance if they liked it. The discrepancy was discussed this way:

… Ms. Douglass has put herself front and center to challenge video clips of her boss that have appeared on Breitbart.com TV (“SEIU Health Care Forum 3/24/07”). Contrary to the President’s new fable that his health care program is designed to preserve the right of Americans to keep their own private health care insurance, he is pictured pre-presidency saying something quite different.

Here is Obama speaking to the Service Employee International Union in 2007. As all can see from this once buried treasure now on Breitbart, it shows candidate Obama saying: “My commitment is to make sure that we’ve got universal health care for all Americans by the end of my first term as president…. I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be, potentially, some transition process: I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out.”

Shown as well on this tape is Obama saying at an AFL-CIO conclave: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan…that’s what I’d like to see.” There are others on the tape, but they are members of Congress and while they are saying the same thing as the President in fairness they are not Ms. Douglass’s responsibility.

So there it was, captured on tape. The President saying one thing about his major domestic initiative as a candidate, and then, in 2009 saying something quite different. What was Douglass’s response? We noted that too: 

In response to the discovery of tapes showing candidate Obama explain exactly what his goals are in health care policy, Ms. Douglass answers with a White House video of her own. She says that the idea we have just seen Mr. Obama say exactly what he said with our own eyes is just not so. In fact, “nothing could be farther from the truth.”

What does Obama say in the Douglass video? He says: "Here’s the guarantee that I’ve made. If you have insurance that you like then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you’ve got a doctor that you like you will be able to keep your doctor. Nobody is trying to change what works in the system. We are trying to change what doesn’t work in the system.”

As events turned out and all America now knows, the presidential sell-job of “if you like your plan you can keep it” was in fact a lie. And a big one — about health care.

Now comes the House Select Committee on Benghazi, set into motion by the infamous Ben Rhodes smoking gun memo. In which White House aide Rhodes, in a memo uncovered by Judicial Watch, is revealed as the author of misleading talking points that were briefed to then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice before her five-Sunday-morning-talk show presentations.

Just to refresh, Judicial Watch led with this headline:

Judicial Watch: Benghazi Documents Point to White House on Misleading Talking Points

Saying bluntly in the opening graph: 

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.” Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” and a possible kidnap attempt.

Thus — with documented untruths on both health care and Benghazi coming from Obama White House aides past and present — now come news of the Geithner revelations saying he was asked to lie … oops! Sorry!...that would be mislead!... about the role of Social Security in driving the deficit.

And also mentioned in the Geithner book is a tussle with then-Obama aide Stephanie Cutter. Yes, that would be the same Stephanie Cutter, as captured in this Breitbart story headlined this way:

Obama Campaign’s Stephanie Cutter Caught Lying Over Anti-Romney Ad

In which, long story short, Ms. Cutter told a CNN audience that “I don’t know the facts” about a steelworker’s allegation linking the death of the steelworker’s wife to Romney’s Bain Capital. Ann allegation that appeared in an Obama campaign commercial. As it turned out, Cutter had already heard the steelworker’s story — hosting a conference call on which the steelworker appeared to tell his story.

Timothy Geithner’s new book may be destined to go the way of all memoirs of presidential appointees. Maybe a turn on bestseller lists, a barrage of PR that makes the incumbent uncomfortable and then….the slow fade.

But Geithner’s book revealing a deliberate attempt to mislead on financial matters, released as it is in the wake of the Rhodes memo — and with a look back at the White House handling of health care untruths, not to mention his nod to Cutter — plays a remarkable role here in the Benghazi hearings soon to come.

As we noted last week, Chairman Trey Gowdy’s prosecutorial insistence on, in the words of the old TV show Dragnet, “just the facts” is a sure way to gain the public’s confidence in getting to the truth of Benghazi, fact by fact.

What increasingly opens as a field of investigation here are the hard facts about how the Obama White House handles — facts.

Also known as the truth.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.