It is a safe prediction that for years to come the debate over the Obama Iran deal will rage, with one question looming largest; namely, which was worse… the treaty or the press conference?
Actually, it was not a conference but what is known in Washington-speak as a “press availability.” This refers not to the press being available but to the President making himself available to the press and all its relentless scrutiny. For once Obama came through, making himself thoroughly available; all his specious sophistry, all his testy narcissism, all his Freudian solipsism, was on display. To coin a phrase, he had all his centrifuges spinning. And, as Jackie Mason would add, I say this with the highest respect.
In one contentious exchange, Major Garrett of CBS wondered how the President was “content” to leave American hostages trapped in Iran, basting in Hell while he basked in Heaven. Obama contended he was not the least bit content; why, he had even met with some of the families of the hostages!
This sort of non sequitur is terribly revealing. How could we suspect him of not caring when he even made time in his busy schedule to meet with relatives? Surely such intensive efforts will be attended with success, much as the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls saved the two hundred girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria? What’s that you say… they were never saved… don’t be ridiculous… we never read about them in the media anymore… they must have been saved!
A man who invests so much into the effort to free our hostages from Iran is just the sort of man we should trust to protect Israel from the threat of nuclear annihilation! Why won’t that right-wing kook Netanyahu quit all his fussing?
There were other juicy tidbits throughout the event. One in particular summed up for me the combination of poor traits that make up the portrait of our young President. Amid the press of the corps, one spunky voice emerged (I paraphrase): “Mr. President, does it disturb you that Prime Minister Assad of Syria and President Rouhani of Iran are making public statements to the effect this deal is a big victory for Iran?”
Obama replied: “It does not concern me that they are spinning the deal in their favor. That is what politicians do!” And he punched the “do” with some real fervor.
At least two very distorted beliefs are revealed in this exchange. The first is a crimp in the true part of the answer; the second stands separately as the false part of the answer. Sure, the answer is partially true. He is right not to be concerned about their spinning because they are liars and tyrants who would tell you they won even if everyone knew they lost, like the guy with blood on his hands and his DNA under the victim’s fingernails who says the jury should acquit because there is “no evidence.” But the way to make that point is by saying: “That is what liars do. That is what tyrants do.” They lie because they are liars, not because they are in a career that makes allowances for wishful interpretation.
So even when his point is valid, his presentation opens a dreary window into his world.
But the false part of his statement is doubly shocking, offensive, misleading, misguiding, corrupting. He tells us that a sitting President or Prime Minister may legitimately regard his role as being “a politician,” thus availing him of the leeway afforded to candidates for office. He may present his actions in matters of life and death to the public in the best possible light. That is what politicians do…
No way! Absolutely cringe-inducingly false!
A candidate is a politician. Once elected he is a governor. A politician may spin things, not to falsify but to magnify, to sell what he believes, to promote a sense of hope and optimism, to set an ideal to which he can aspire. This is a dispensation that must be managed discerningly, but at least it can be defended.
But to spin while in office?! Unconscionable. In office you are a governor, a leader, a representative of the people and every word out of your mouth must be the absolute truth or the closest you can approach it in good faith. The people, the ones who believed your hype, who bought your hope, have placed absolute faith in your judgment, your temperament, your character, your integrity. There is no room at all for manipulating the perceptions of events to create an illusion of success when it is not paralleled by reality.
Mister President, if you think lying to the people while in office is what “politicians do,” pardon us for not trusting you with our lives in negotiating arrangements with rabid haters out to kill us and destroy our way of life.
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