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May 14, 2009
Obama, Detainee Photos, and Vanity Arson
President Obama announces the pending release of “tortured” detainees’ photos, awaits the firestorm, then plays the hero by reversing his decision.
There’s a name for this behavior in the professional firefighter community: “Vanity fire.”
“The news from around the country is the same. A young, usually volunteer, firefighter sets a fire allowing his department to respond. Often he calls it in or is the first to arrive and is wanting praise for his quick actions. It's a ‘vanity fire.’"
Here’s how it plays.
President Obama announces the pending release of photos showing allegedly tortured detainees. The Left applauds the decision. The public thinks otherwise. House Democrats armor-up to investigate. The fire starts.
We have two options to understand the narrative at the start: (1) Obama anticipated the public’s negative response. Or, (2) the push-back from the public and the military came as a surprise.
Option (2) brings Obama’s political judgment into question. How could he not have anticipated the response? After running a masterful campaign, albeit against a weak opponent in McCain, it’s hard to question his political judgment or the judgment of those closest to him.
So let’s stick with option (1).
(1a) He anticipated the negative response but underestimated it. That’s possible, but that would be a major miscalculation.
(1b) Obama anticipated the negative response, both in content and intensity. He also knew it would divert the media’s and the public’s attention while other things were happening of major importance. Then, when the firestorm reached critical mass, he plays the hero, steps boldly forward, and withdraws his intentions to release the photos.
The ACLU screams. So what? They’re not going to withdraw their support for Obama, or his policies.
The controversy will pass soon, and President Obama will emerge as a hero (the thoughtful Commander in Chief) for having put out the fire that he started.
Vanity arson in the political sphere. Bada bing, bada boom.