Killing the Messenger, Obama's Way
What do CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Bibi Netanyahu, a Lebanese website, and Mitt Romney all have in common?
They told some truths inconvenient for President Barack Obama. They are now enemies of hope, enemies of change. They are a big pain in the rear for the man who "leads from the rear" by leading with his rear.
President Obama thinks critics and foes need not only to be defeated, but to be crushed and shamed in the public square.
Obama and his team said CNN's reports on terror in Libya were "disgusting" and "indefensible," that Mitt Romney's comments on Obama's policy show that he likes to "shoot first and aim later," unlike straight-shooting, straight-talking Sheriff Obama.
Actually, CNN, Romney, The Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu, etc. all found or revealed facts showing that the Emperor of Hope and Change is naked -- not a wise anti-terror sheriff who got Osama bin Laden, but an inept and negligent custodian of U.S. national security who prefers to play golf or campaign in Vegas.
CNN and the Journal showed that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied when they said many times that the attacks on U.S. diplomats were protests over some film, when they said they had not been warned about terror attacks, when they said they had not apologized.
Obama, Clinton, and White House spokesman James Carney should indeed apologize -- to the American people who employ them. They also should apologize to CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and even Mitt Romney. The Obama team lied repeatedly and shamelessly about the true nature of the terror attacks.
They then tried to spin the story into a yarn about CNN or Mitt Romney violating the privacy of the dead Americans, especially Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Yes, there was a violation, and it appears that not only Ambassador Stevens's privacy was violated -- but not by CNN, by Romney, or by the Wall Street Journal.
The real story may be more like -- but far worse than -- Iran's kidnapping of U.S. diplomats in 1979. The Obama-driven narrative about how Libyans heroically rescued an ambassador suffering from smoke inhalation will not fly.
A Lebanese website and other media showed film and crowd comments that suggest that Ambassador Stevens was physically abused, perhaps sexually abused, in order to humiliate America. (The same thing happened to Gaddafi earlier in Libya, when he was marched through the streets before being killed.)
Media reports showed that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was well-planned. The U.S. was warned, there and in Egypt, about upcoming violence. Ambassador Stevens himself warned Obama and Clinton that al-Qaeda had targeted him. U.S. security personnel worried about hostile surveillance on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Obama and Clinton insulted Romney for criticizing Obama's apology for a film that offended Muslims. But the film was an excuse, not a cause. These were pre-planned assaults on Americans on 9-11. The problem is not Romney, but the negligence of Team Obama, whose apology validated the phony narrative used by terrorists.
Obama and Co. have also vilified Israel and demeaned Prime Minister Netanyahu for showing how slowly Obama moved on Iran's nuclear bomb program. Netanyahu is not the problem, unless the problem is Obama's reputation rather than Iran's bombs.
All of these reports on Mid-East developments are intolerable offenses to the Obama administration, which likes to manage the public discourse more than any other U.S. government since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
Like Nixon, Obama plays hardball. He quotes the line from the movie The Untouchables about gangsters in Chicago: "If he brings a knife, you bring a gun."
The Boys from Chicago are now acting like medieval monarchs, who executed messengers who brought them bad news.
Recently, Obama's senior political adviser, David Axelrod, tried to intimidate The Gallup Organization for publishing polls showing Obama's lead narrowing. The Obama Justice Department has found some reason to question Gallup. Last week, Gallup figures showed that the gap had actually closed entirely.
Obama has enjoyed very soft press coverage, full of tales of Obama's policy skills and adoring accounts of how he "engages" Iran, Syria, Islamist Turkey, and Egypt, getting the Islamic World to love America. Obama tried to charm Muslims, but Islamic foes were not charmed like a pack of fangless cobras used in old movies.
A more powerful and deeper truth has emerged. Obama's vision of "Arab Spring" and his entire vision for the Middle East have collapsed along with the web of lies built around them. Obama and Clinton are not Mid-East mavens. They are clueless.
True, as Obama might say, he did not build those lies by himself. Someone helped him. An adoring press corps helped him.
Let's give credit to those in the media who have returned to their jobs as watchdogs, not lap dogs. Let's not kill the messengers and hang them in the public square.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was a strategic affairs adviser in Israel's Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.