'How dumb does Obama think we are'?
A question asked by some right wing nut? Or liberal columnist Ron Fournier?
Fournier has become increasingly harsh in his criticism of the Obama administration. Yesterday, he wrote a column for National Journal that calls out the administration for their lies about the VA scandal.
News quiz: President Obama and his communications team hope that Americans are: 1) Dumb; 2) Distracted; 3) Numb to government inefficiency; 4) All of above.
Answer: 4, all of the above.
That answer along with utter incompetence are the best explanations for why the White House thought it could get away with claiming that the departure of Veterans Affairs official Robert Petzel was a step toward accountability for its scandalous treatment of war veterans.
Fact is, the department announced in 2013 that Dr. Petzel would retire this year.
"Well, Secretary Shinseki accepted Dr. Petzel's resignation this afternoon. He was due to retire early next month, and obviously there has been a nomination made for his replacement," White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough told CBS's Major Garrett last week. "I leave to Rick the explanation of his decision, but there is no question that this is a termination of his job there before he was planning to go."
No. This was neither a termination nor a housecleaning. It was a scapegoating. For all of its 21st-century savvy in the field of campaign technology, the Obama White House has repeatedly proven that its communications philosophy is stuck in the 20th century. Before the Internet gave voters instantaneous access to information, including every public utterance of the president and his team, White House strategists could hope to wear out the truth: If you said a lie enough, people might believe it.
It's harder to BS the public these days. White House press secretary Jay Carney still tries. On Monday, he repeatedly suggested that the American Legion had praised the move.
"The American Legion said that the group looks at Petzel's resignation as a, quote, step towards addressing the leadership problem at the VA. So I think that undercuts the assertion that that is not a meaningful development."
Carney cited the American Legion nine times during the briefing.
Unfortunately for Carney and his boss, ABC's intrepid White House correspondent Jonathan Karl has access to the Internet. "It turns out, however, the American Legion had issued a statement dismissing the resignation as 'business as usual,' "
Making the determination to lie is carefully planned. Before Carney briefs reporters, he sits down with top administration officials and his staff to come up with the company line for the day. The "resignation" lie was deliberate and calculated.
Why do they think they can get away with it? Aside from conservative blogs and a few commentators like Fournier, they already have. These are media savvy people who know - or have a good idea - how long a particular story will see the light of day on the cable nets, and news talk radio. It isn't very long. In a few hours, the resignation story was replaced by a hero cat or some other flake of news to distract the public.
The vast majority of Americans may be aware of the VA scandal, but details like Robert Petzel's retirement/resignation goes over their heads and into the ether. The administration lies brazenly and often because by the time they are called to account - if they ever are - the world has moved on and literally, no one cares anymore.