With the clock winding down on Barack Obama’s presidency, historians are gearing up to write his legacy. They, unlike journalists reporting on daily issues, will engage in more detailed research to assess Obama’s tenure. Thus, the historian’s assessment should prove much more accurate—and telling.
Obama foreign policy guru Ben Rhodes recently claimed journalists routinely fail to undertake adequate research. He touted in a New York Times Magazine interview how easily he manipulated the press during nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Hard to believe such a youthful (38) naïve, lacking any foreign policy experience, was able effectively to operate a “war room” from which he sold the media on the nuclear deal over the objections of much more seasoned experts. Rhodes boasted his deceit was made easier by “hundreds of often-clueless reporters” failing to do their research.
“We created an echo chamber,” he bragged. “They (the media) were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
“The White House… liars… think you’re stupid,” one critic informs Americans, citing Rhodes, as “More proof that Obama flacks put his legacy before our security.”
Clearly, journalistic indifference contributed to Americans buying into a false bill of goods, enabling Rhodes to pedal a terribly bad Iranian nuclear deal as a supposedly good one.
Despite Rhodes’ post-Iran deal revelation, the media still remains indifferent towards Obama’s accountability. What the media has failed to do, historians, hopefully, will not.
Historians doing their research will understand the Iran story is only part of Obama’s grand deception strategy. The foundation upon which Rhodes erected his façade of lies was built even before the Iran deal was negotiated.
Obama entered the Oval Office hell-bent on actively deceiving Americans, often by engaging in semantics. While other U.S. presidents have been taken to task for occasional deceptions, Obama’s presidency thrived on them, unchallenged by the press.
We got an early taste of this semantics game when Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano first testified before Congress in February 2009. Not once did she utter the words “terrorism” or “9/11.”
Her spokesman reported avoidance of the two terms was not deliberate; Napolitano later suggested it was. She would no longer use the word “terrorism,” deeming it more appropriate to describe such acts as “man-caused disasters.” She explained, “That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
As her use of the “man-caused disaster” verbiage arguably could apply also to the 2010 British Petroleum Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it obviously was a confusing term. But the semantics game was on.
Napolitano’s attempt to obfuscate the real meaning of a term well understood by all for one less understood was just the tip of the iceberg.
A novice at wordsmithing to give a less-sinister spin to reality, Napolitano gave way to master semantician Obama.
Obama sought to distance the word “terrorism” from what most Americans, after 9/11, understandably came to perceive as its root cause—Islam.
Throughout his entire presidency, Obama has vehemently rejected any such linkage. He did so despite Muslim leaders’ acknowledgment of such – such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi did by calling on Muslims to eliminate the religious rhetoric fostering violence.
How much more demonstrative an indicator can there be a link exists between Islam and violence than one raised by Muslim leaders themselves? Yet the media still refused to take Obama to task for this deception.
Obama recently demonstrated yet another effort at deceptive semantics, using it to disguise the loss of American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq as non-combat related.
Obama had repeatedly bragged during his 2012 presidential campaign, “I promised to end the war in Iraq, and I did.” But, as ISIS hostilities in Iraq subsequently increased, his tune changed. He claimed the decision to pull all U.S. forces out was not his.
When ISIS gains in Iraq necessitated a limited U.S. troop re-deployment, resulting in recent casualties, Obama then sought to protect his legacy. Not wanting it linked to starting another war in Iraq or Aghanistan after taking credit for ending both, he claims deployed U.S. forces are not there on a combat mission. But body bags shipped from both battlefields strongly suggest otherwise.
So too does Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joe Dunford. Testifying before Senator David Sullivan (R-Alaska), Dunford acknowledged those killed and wounded were “in combat.” Sullivan was dumbfounded as to why this was being withheld from the American public.
To further downplay the fighting, Obama, who highlighted the false bomb-making accusations against a young Muslim teen bringing a clock he built to school by inviting him to the White House, not only made no similar effort to invite the family of a fallen Navy SEAL recently killed in Afghanistan, he refused even to acknowledge the death.
With a U.S. troop presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, the semantics game will become much more challenging for Obama during his remaining time in office.
Obama has extended this game to include ISIS crimes against humanity where Christians are involved. While he declares ISIS commits genocide against religious minorities, he refuses to acknowledge Christians are included—even though ISIS specifically says they are.
Obama’s Department of Justice recently jumped into the semantics game too. Criminals are now to be called “justice-involved individuals.”
While Obama presses his policy of deception to the end, the media remains silent — one media source placing more importance on assigning twenty reporters to dig up dirt on Donald Trump than on exposing Obama.
Ironically, at a time Obama should be shaken down for rampant deception, his popularity is higher than was President Ronald Reagan’s at the same time in office. It especially is unwarranted as his own foreign policy guru chides the American public’s stupidity concerning the Iran deal.
The only logical explanation for Obama’s undeserved popularity is the fourth estate’s failure to do its job.
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.