There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity!
Burl Ives as Big Daddy Pollitt in Tenesee William's "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof"
I've been going to a little 24/7 "key access" gym to rehab an ankle that I inadvertently destroyed in a freak home improvement accident.
Alone in the building, with the sun streaming through the front plate glass window, I mounted the Lifestyle 9500 Elliptical instrument of torture for my dose of aerobic, cardiovascular ankle crunching.
On the television directly in front of me, members of the White House Press Corps were jockeying for position, in preparing for an upcoming Presidential press conference... on a lazy Friday afternoon... in the middle of summer, right before the Prez will disappear off the grid on his Martha's Vineyard Vacation... announced in such a low key fashion that I wasn't even aware that there was going to be an event of such importance to the American and ultimately World Audience even held.
Lucky me, I got to witness the whole enchilada in its entirety, whilst wincing in very real and physical pain, sweating like a whore in church. I even got closed captioning along with sound, and that's always good for a chuckle when watching live broadcasts.
In his opening statement, he promised to address the current Edward Snowden / NSA / Government Surveillance / Leaking vs Whistleblowing/ Internet Privacy Violation debacle, and that seemed like damned good political Kabuki Theater entertainment for the political junkie that I am on a Friday afternoon. I pedaled faster to get my heart rate up to optimum speed for what was to follow, because it promised to be a doozy.
The Obama Administration's now standard tactic of addressing critical issues or signing controversial legislation on the slowest of news cycle days are getting a little moldy for me. "Slipping it in the backdoor when no one notices" is not a hallmark of grabbing the reigns of leadership robustly. Its bad passive aggressive manners in bed, and even more obviously manipulative and duplicitous in the political arena.
As the President addressed the issue of Snowden/ Leaks/ The Patriot Act/ The NSA / FISC ect, I ticked off on my fingers every provable, debatable half truth, subterfuge and lie. I'm not exactly uninformed on Patriot Act abuse, as its study has been kind a "hobby" of mine for the past 5 years or so.
I was struck with how the President was allowing himself little to no wiggle room, and no outlet to any plausible deniability with the absolute finality and assuredness in some of his statements. I didn't know whether to cheer at the TV at the sheer genius of his bluffing strategy, or yell at the TV to advise him to duck. He wasn't potentially digging holes with a garden shovel, he was breaking out the back hoe and doubling down.
It was as if he, The Big P-Fluffer, and Axelrod were never around when Clinton uttered "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky", and never learned the political and public relations lessons in the aftermath of that fateful statement.
As I watched this press conference the critical question for me was "Does He know the extent of what he is saying, or is He being fed so much dis-information by his advisory teams that he's actually being set up for a massive fall?"
As I entertained that hypothetical second notion, I became very concerned for our President. Perhaps the bubble that he lives in has made him that vulnerable to that type of attack.
The surface is only being scratched here. If the actual abuses of these programs are eventually uncovered (and judging by the draconian clampdown by the administration, somewhat of a perceived long shot at this point; one can only hope that more whistleblowers will surface), then the President has either an unprecedented hubris, or is about to be forced into taking an unwitted fall of epic proportions. One thing is for sure though. To paraphrase "Breaking Bad"'s Walter White; he most definitely is not currently "Treading Lightly".
I won't bore you with the gory details of refuting or debating what was said in this conference, but today an article published by The Atlantic started making the social network rounds on facebook entitled: "THE SURVEILLANCE SPEECH: A NEW LOW IN BARRACK OBAMA'S PRESIDENCY. His tone was inappropriately dismissive, while the substance was misleading at best, and mendacious at worst" (Byline: Connor Friedersdorf, August 12, 2013 at 4:14 am)
I couldn't have agreed with that opening shot across the bow more. So I dove in and read the thing, and if you should decide to go any further with this blog, I suggest you read it and get up to speed. I don't know if the editorial slant of The Atlantic is part of the vast biased media conspiracy, but I do know that the article is worth the time to read and consider.
I seem to confuse my facebook and social networking friends with my political views. I'm loathe to put an ideological label on myself, because I find the whole idea of an all or nothing bi-polar ideological system loathsome to begin with. Truth and Consensual Realities, are on a potentiometer.
There are many different degrees, and many different points of view and perspectives. All must be accommodated, and none should be marginalized. Like the X-Files, truth is in there somewhere, but it has to come from interpretation, and that can only happen when the data set you're working with is as complete as you can possibly make it. Collect the data, orbit and rotate around it, view all facets, and then make an interpretive call. That is as close to truth in the political arena that you will ever get.
If forced, I guess I'm a left leaning centrist. I believe in progressive thinking, and therefore could be labeled a liberal progressive. I also believe in basic common sense, and certain core ideas like respecting the Constitution; rather the province of a typical definition of a "Conservative".
So when I choose to be publicly critical of the stewardship of the Presidency (per example), somehow my liberal friends think I've gone over to the dark side, and my Conservative friends think I'm somehow validating their more extremist positions... both of which couldn't be further from my own truth. There's a lot of unconscious, non-voluntary knee jerking going on out there in cyber space.
Being critical of how the Presidency is represented to the American Public and thus the world does not automatically mean that you don't support " The Presidency" or even The President for that matter. It does mean that you want it to function differently, and in your own opinion, function better and at a higher level. You want your guy to do the job you know he's capable of doing.
People seem to be very comfortable in demonizing President Obama as a singular entity, but lets get real here for a brief NY minute. The Presidency is always a creation of committee; many different skill sets are required to acquire a US Presidency, from the creative conceptualization of an electable entity to those who put up the money to fund the initiative to go out and win it.
The Executive Branch is then beholden, and accountable, to all that contributed to secure the reigns of power for four, or in the current case, an eight year cycle... and the basic job of elected office is to make hay for yourself and your supporters while the sun shines. In cases where there are no term limits, the figureheads are constantly raising money first, leading and legislating LAST. Its all about power, and money, in that order.
But every once in awhile to make it look good, the manifestation of progress on a social initiative might materialize...but more times than not "legislation and appropriations" take the form some sort of legal chicanery that results in someone making a lot of money, either the elected official his or herself, or the consortia and corporations that put up the money to get them there in the first place.
The hoi polloi electorate that physically won the office, in the end in terms of hierarchy in the food chain of being accountable for, is far down the actual agenda ladder.
Cynical, I know. But that's our current system, in simplified terms.
This particular Presidency is a brain child of a few brilliant American public relation minds, the best and brightest on the technological front, and deep, deep pockets; not only a group that obviously includes President Obama himself, but also the individuals that really invented the concept of an "Obama Presidency." They are leading just as much as the figurehead himself, if not more so.
I know its hard, but try to not buy into the singular entity as a target, but the larger organization of what the figurehead represents... and here's a clue. It isn't the Democratic Party. Widen your scope and your ability to its widest angle, and you still will be hard pressed to identify (Its designed that way).
What I saw in this press conference was a man that may have finally reached a "Peter Principle" point. He finally was over matched and over whelmed in actual performance and conceptual ability to perform the required task at hand. Either that, or a Narcissist that has finally strayed far off the reservation.
What was exhibited in my mind was the clear incapability to step outside his committee consensus and take the lead for those who supported this Presidency from the bottom; The ones that worked phone banks, and contributed their paltry five dollars in unprecedented numbers during the campaign of 2008. We're all waiting for the potential that was recognized to be finally realized.
What seems to be happening is the exact opposite; The Atlantic article clearly articulates in point by point fashion not only the minute points concerning surveillance, but in doing so, exposes the larger methodology of the official actions and strategies of the current Presidency.
A standard reaction tool now used is the one of "withering condescension" directed at the opposition forces.
It may have worked in the past, but this too is becoming less an less of an effective strategy. It works less and less on the informed. Whether a rabid frothing at the mouth tea bagger or a way left of center commie pinko liberal, the internal thought that is inspired by that now standard five year rhetorical maneuver and smug high school debate strategy is basically, "Fuck Off, Mr. President".
No American Citizen, no matter at what station of life they may or may not occupy, needs to willingly suffer an arrogant asshole, especially one that's digging himself in a hole in front of their very eyes. Take your constituents a little more seriously, and treat them with the respect you demand for yourself. You'll need the hands of those same constituents to pull you out of this current mess of your own making down the road.
There is a simple pathway out of the current NSA/ Security / Privacy / Snowden morass. There may be legal implications that dictate massaging it with a seemingly light non-committal touch, but in the end, there are going to have to be some heads on pikes. Significant ones, but not so much to touch the Presidency. In other words, by targeting Snowden, you are targeting the wrong head. Or set of heads, for that matter.
It may be a good obfuscation trick to focus the debate on the ""Is He A Traitor? / Is He A Hero?" question, but that will only work in the short term. Many of us are actually beyond that and focused on the content of the message that Snowden actually attempted to deliver. Dropping the turd in the cornflake bowl on a Friday before the slowest news cycle of the year isn't going to throw people of the scent. Its a woeful underestimation of the resolve of the American Citizenry.
There will be damage and loss, much like a drastic cancer surgery. Cancer can be survived after radical surgery, and so can a Presidency and its subsequent legacy after a large scale public purging and house cleaning.
Then all the actors will get to do there best Claude Rains in Casablanca impression "I'm SHOCKED... SHOCKED that this was going on in this Casino!". The Kabuki Theater will compel the public to stop paying attention to the next bit of behind the scenes thievery, and eventually we all can get back to "normal" and business as usual.
But if the decision is made to continue down the current pathway that seems to have been chosen by the creators and handlers of this Presidency, a word of caution. You have compromised the figurehead to the point that if the real truth of these matters are uncovered, then that figurehead will be burned beyond any reasonable political or public repair. Its a very dangerous political and public relations game that is being played right now.
I like a high stakes gamble as much as anybody, but don't overestimate your ability to keep a lid on this one, or plug all the leaks. Too many people know too much. Its the HUBRIS that will kill your golden goose.
So give up a little ground first. It will give you the element of surprise.You missed the window to get ahead on this issue, and now you're about to enter full on damage/ spin control. The water is swirling down the bowl, and unfortunately its YOUR HAND that jiggled the lever... a rookie mistake, really , and that's why I'm disappointed.
So follow the simple dictum and the standard playbook. Its standard for a reason; now is not the time to re-invent the wheel.. Shed some sacrificial heads that are verifiable abusers of the laws on the books ( I have a few suggestions if you're interested), and live to fight another day. You have an election cycle coming up in 2014, a political and data collecting machine to preserve post term, people to pay off, and a legacy to secure.... oh yeah, and a country that needs to run that actually requires guidance and leadership, instead of falsely sustaining the seat of power on a fuel mixture that CAN be clearly recognized as a formula comprised of mostly horseshit by all Americans if they invest the energy to take a heady whiff, regardless of their ideological leanings.
Have a nice vacation, and then get your collective heads out of the sand of your own creation.
And as a minor personal aside to P-Fluffer and Axelrod: Bo The DOG being delivered by Ofsprey to Martha's Vineyard? Who made THAT genius call?
You guys are killing us. Dip in the well of Archie Drell and the Bells and "Tighten Up".