Posted by Brad @ 1:37 pm on May 14th 2013

Is this wheel turning too?

Obama has long declared himself head of the most transparent administration in history, and while pretty much nobody ACTUALLY believes him it still remains a kind of gut instinct that they are at least trying and better than the Bush administration. That gut instinct is, of course, wrong, but you can almost nowhere find an Obama voter willing to drum up the same outrage on any given Obama secrecy transgression as they would have for a Bush one that was half as important. And I don’t just mean partisan liberals – I mean your casual political watchers (indeed, even particularly them).

I have already gone on record stating that I don’t care about Benghazi, and I still mostly don’t, but the hearings this week have done a little more damage than I may have given the issue credit for, in large part because it’s capped a Chinese water torture* of pretty bad news, much of it that may be really forcing people to do a gut-check on that aforementioned instinct. And actually, I think you can trace it back farther – just the drip drip drip of revelations that you could maybe rationalize away individually in a vacuum, but over time becomes a little too much cognitive dissonance to handle. The IRS putting administration rhetoric to the road in targeting Tea Party groups and conservative 501c4s (it’s not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you), new news that the Justice Department has been secretly collecting the phone records of AP reporters and editors – even just stupid one-off examples like this (which is neither stupid nor one-off but you know what I mean).

In fact, I’d have a hard time arguing with the following statement:

Under Obama, the powers of the federal government over your life have expanded, and its transparency has contracted, more than during any other presidency in modern American history.

Which even people who could be debated into eventually agreeing with that statement as a point of fact still don’t necessarily internalize or at least would be unwilling to concede without a lot of excuse-making, flailing mitigations, or “yeah butting”.

But this week, to me, feels like maybe the damn is starting to break a little.

*which is legal under the Obama administration for reasons they won’t disclose and which you’ll get amnesty for if you did it before the Obama administration or presumably after.


  1. We know–we have factual certainty–that the attack on the embassy in Libya was direct blowback for the Obama administration’s unauthorized intervention there.

    We know that the administration knew this at the time.

    And we know that, knowing this, they chose to spend a week hanging a filmmaker out to dry as the culprit, triggering a global argument over the legitimacy of the first amendment as it pertains to artistic expression.

    You may not care about Benghazi. I care a great deal.

    Comment by Rojas — 5/14/2013 @ 2:45 pm

  2. Nearly simultaneously to the attack there was a somewhat hairy protest happening at a consulate in Egypt specifically centered around the film. During that week there had been about a dozen of those around the region, which was the context during which this attack happened. The first person to claim responsibility for the attack (at least according to David Kilpatrick) did so saying it was a retaliation for the film. The CIA, three days after the event, prepared a briefing for the president saying “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”

    I mean, I get why this is important in an inside baseball way, but I don’t for a second believe there was some meeting where they sat down and said “okay, we know this was a specifically targeted tactical strike as retaliation for our imperial interventionism and black ops in the area, but you know what, fuck that video guy for his intolerance, let’s blame him instead.” I get why they might have blown that call in the immediate aftermath, is my point, and think it’s a bad test case for the kinds of axe grinding both Republicans and yourself are seem interested in (although yours, imperial blowback and first amendment legitimacy, is at least refreshingly novel – most of the axes seem to be related to how much of a swinging dick one has for declaring things evil and Islamic related).

    Although all that’s a bit astray from this post.

    Comment by Brad — 5/14/2013 @ 4:03 pm

  3. John Dickerson, along with a great read on what small government conservatism believes later in the piece:

    Monday, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of records of phone conversations by its reporters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post revealed that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups was more widespread than first reported. Someone at the IRS also leaked information about conservative groups to ProPublica. The Environmental Protection Agency may also have made it easier for environmental groups to file Freedom of Information Act requests than conservative organizations.

    The Obama administration is doing a far better job making the case for conservatism than Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner ever did. Showing is always better than telling, and when the government overreaches in so many ways it gives support to the conservative argument about the inherently rapacious nature of government.

    Comment by Brad — 5/14/2013 @ 7:27 pm

  4. It is not necessary for the President to have actively engaged in deception to have botched this. To do so would be lacking in skill and would make him vulnerable to subsequent allegations of malfeasance. Instead, you do what the Bush White House did: you create a State Department where the pre-determined answers are those that feed your political narrative, and you wait for someone to tell you what you want to hear while studiously avoiding contradictory data…such as, in this case, the directly expressed opinions of consulate personnel.

    This works equally well in terms of law enforcement investigations of your political opposition. Why issue direct orders when, instead, you can foster the idea that the opposition movement is a front for racism and violent terror and wait for your employees to act on your behalf?

    Comment by Rojas — 5/14/2013 @ 8:37 pm

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