We can usefully view the Obama administration’s chronic untruthfulness as a sort of multifaceted corporation of untruth, with all sorts of subsidiaries.
THE BALD LIES OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY
Remember the al-Qaeda-is-on-the-run 2012-election talking point? It was mostly a lie. The administration deliberately released to sympathetic journalists only those documents from the so-called Osama bin Laden trove that revealed worry and dissension among the terrorists. Then it nourished essays by pet journalists trumpeting the decline of al-Qaeda. Disturbing memos that confounded that narrative, as Weekly Standard journalist Steven F. Hayes recently noted, were kept back. “On the run” was dropped after the 2012 election, when events on the ground made such an assertion absurd.
Has anything the administration said about pulling our troops out of Iraq proven true? Was it really the Iraqis’ fault or George Bush’s? Was our leaving proof that Iraq might be one of the administration’s “great achievements”? Was the Iraq that we left without any peacekeepers really “stable”? On more than ten occasions the president bragged on the campaign trail that he alone had ended American involvement in Iraq. When Iraq predictably blew up after our departure, he snarled to reporters that he was angry that anyone would dare accuse him alone of being responsible for our precipitate departure.
Was there any element of “reset” with Russia that was accurate? Obama came into office lambasting the prior administration for alienating Russia — when all it had done was adopt some rather moderate measures to punish Russia for invading Georgia. Reset, in truth, was a remission of punishments — from missile defense with the Czechs and Poles to cut-offs of some high-level negotiations — and thus served as a signal to Putin and his subordinates that Obama believed America had been wrong to react to Georgia. And we know what followed from that.
Have any of the statements the administration has presented about our southern border proven true? Do we know how many people have recently crossed into the United States illegally, what exactly U.S. immigration policy is, or where exactly foreign nationals are and what are their statuses? The public polls strongly against lax borders and blanket amnesties, so the administration apparently must deceive to permit both — and in a politically disingenuous fashion of postponing the requisite executive orders until after the 2014 midterm elections, while blaming the delay on the crisis on the border that it caused.
Did much of anything prove accurate about the Affordable Care Act? Costs, keeping our doctors and existing plans, the effect on the deficit, the website? Had the president in 2008 outlined honestly the ACA’s provisions, he would never have gotten elected, or had he by 2012 fully implemented them, he would never have gotten reelected. Lying about Obamacare and demonizing any who objected were smart politics, but the president will never regain the trust of those whose premiums spiked, who lost their coverage and their doctors, and who still do not understand what exactly Obamacare is.
Most of the assertions uttered in the 2009 Cairo speech were untrue, from false claims about Islamic achievement to supposed Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition in Córdoba — at a time when there were no Muslims in Córdoba. Emperor Hirohito no more surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR were in office when their respective wars ended and they supposedly agreed to prisoner exchanges — or than Barack Obama’s grandfather helped to free Auschwitz. Obama sees history in the same postmodernist fashion in which he looks upon his own past — details are constructed by everyone, and thus truth is a relative concept that should not be adjudicated by those with privilege against those who are using narratives to advance social justice. The result is that almost any time the president makes reference to the past, ours or his, we can assume two things: His facts are wrong, and they are wrong in a way that is meant to highlight his own godhead.
There are lots of things that Obama says that he knows will simply fade into oblivion. Did we ever believe that Joe Biden was going to bird-dog abuses in spending for the stimulus to ensure shovel-ready jobs? Did we really believe that Obama would halve the deficit by the end of his first term — or that he would close Guantanamo Bay? Did he really obtain congressional approval for bombing Libya, as he once promised for such operations? Did anyone believe that the Obama administration would not hire former lobbyists or that it would end the revolving door, any more than we believed Obama’s assurances that those who made less than $250,000 would not have any of their taxes go up? What exactly is an Obama step-over line, red line, or deadline? Obama’s serial rhetorical emphatics — Let me be perfectly clear, Make no mistake about it, In point of fact, You can take that to the bank, I’m not kidding, I’m not making this up — are the usual verbal tics that warn the audience that a complete untruth is to follow.
Then there is another sort of untruth summed up best as blame-gaming — “They did it, not me!” The president confessed to having no strategy to deal with the Islamic State. But that was the fault of the Pentagon for not yet formulating any. The Islamic State had crept up on us — and that was the fault of the intelligence services. The world is in chaos? The new social networking — the much-bragged-about hip keystone of Obama’s two election campaigns — is to blame for making the gullible believe the world is falling apart. The president had to remove every last soldier from Iraq — but he didn’t really do that; it was either Bush or Maliki. The president ignored his own red lines in Syria? But they weren’t his own: The U.N., not he, made them. The president dubbed the Islamic State the jayvees? No, he actually meant an array of groups.
Such blame-gaming is simply the current foreign-policy manifestation of a long-established Obama-administration trait of blaming dismal news on something other than its own policies: ATMs were responsible for high joblessness; the stimulus failed, but House obstructionism was to blame. The Republican House also blocked immigration reform — which Obama easily could have passed when the Democrats controlled the Congress in 2009–10. Tsunamis and earthquakes, including a mild tremor in D.C. itself, rattled the economy and contributed to the discouraging economic statistics. Bad GDP news? The American people had gotten a bit “soft” and lost “their competitive edge.”
Sometimes there are lies by omission. The administration is simply incapable of uttering the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism,” and that fact requires all sorts of lying by omission about who exactly is killing Americans and why. So we are serially told that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular, that workplace violence caused Fort Hood, that jihad is largely a personal journey, that the idea of terrorists creating a caliphate is absurd, and all the other euphemisms necessary to hide the apparently unpleasant truth of killing by radical Islamists.
As far as the VA, AP, IRS, NSA, and other scandals go, do not count on any confession, investigation, lawsuit, or special prosecutor to reveal the truth in the next two years. The Obama administration will lose documents, redact critical information, find e-mails only years later, and lie about evidence until most of its members are safely out of office and working for Citigroup, one of the major TV networks, or Goldman Sachs.
Obama’s prevaricating has lost him any thought of a legacy, all the more so because for years as a candidate and as president he pontificated about his new transparency and the need for executive candor — itself an untruth at best, and at worst a cynical ploy to provide cover for a deliberate effort to enact policies that could not be honestly presented to the American people.
The two fuels that run Untruth, Inc., are, first, a realization that most of the president’s policies, whether deliberately or as a result of indifference and laziness, run counter to what most Americans support, and, second, a media establishment so invested in his agenda that it will not call the administration to account. So the engine of lying keeps humming. On any given day the president of the United States can step up to the teleprompter amid the latest disaster and swear that he did not do what he just did, or insist that someone else, not he, did the dastardly deed, or simply skip over recent history and make things up. The press at first quibbles, then nods in agreement, and Obama is empowered to do it again and again. We have not seen such a disingenuous president since Richard Nixon — but he, at least, was countered rather than enabled by the media.