Monday, May 20, 2013

How a competing narrative forms

Great moments in furniture
You might remember this moment. There was Clint Eastwood, iconic film star and hobbyist politician, appearing on the stage of the Republican National Convention, doing some performance art with an empty chair. It was less than a year ago and while the Republicans loved it, the moment made many people wonder if ol' Clint was, well, losing it, especially since his attempt at a one-sided conversation didn't exactly rise to the level of a Bob Newhart bit.

As I've thought about the past few weeks and the parade of scandals/outrages/nothingburgers that we've witnessed, I've gone back to this moment. It's striking that a president would be presented as so disengaged from things that happen around him. And when the New Yorker starts getting in on the action, you know that the meme is getting legs:

President Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to reassure the American people that he has “played no role whatsoever” in the U.S. government over the past four years.

“Right now, many of you are angry at the government, and no one is angrier than I am,” he said. “Quite frankly, I am glad that I have had no involvement in such an organization.”

The President’s outrage only increased, he said, when he “recently became aware of a part of that government called the Department of Justice.”
It's satire. Yeah, sure.

Surprisingly enough, some people don't believe it, and they tend to be people who have long memories. Here's Bob Schieffer of CBS, summing things up quite nicely:
On the news that the IRS targeted conservative groups for burdensome scrutiny during the 2012 election, Bob Schieffer says, "Surely no one could be dumb enough to think you could get away with that in an election year. But they were! So, welcome to dumb and dumber."
Meanwhile, Bob Woodward, who as I recall was something of a player in the events of 40 years ago, ended up sparring with David Gregory on Meet the Press and said some interesting things, too:
MR. WOODWARD: Well, I-- I think you have to kind of step back and say what’s the theory of governing here.
MR. WOODWARD: And the theory is, it seems, oh, there are investigations of the IRS so we can’t interfere. There is this leak investigation of the AP, so we can’t get involved. Oh, there is an investigation of Benghazi, so we’re not responsible. The President and the executive branch need to govern on a daily basis and you can’t purchase immunity from governing.
GREGORY: But you can’t conflate all those things, Bob.
MR. WOODWARD: Yes, you can.
And this:
MR. WOODWARD: But some institutions have a no-surprise rule, which is you need to make sure the person at the top, who is the president in this case, he is constitutionally responsible for the whole executive branch, to be told about things that are going on that are bad. And you can’t kind of say, oh, that happened last year and they’re investigating. You need to stop the bad things right away.

Yep. And we're going to find out whether anyone made any effort to stop the bad things. And we're going to find out if crazy ol' Clint was just crazy, or if he had matters dialed in pretty well.

1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

My take here is that nobody is doing what needs to be done to figure out what happened. You want to do that, you simply interview each of those "low level perps" and find out their versions of what happened. You find out what role their boss did, or did not, have in this. You get the documents proving it. Then you keep going up levels until you find the root causes.

And since the Obama administration isn't terribly interested in finding those root causes, a set of independent prosecutors needs to be appointed, and they've got to be ones that will say "so an so needs to be demoted, and these guys need to be fired for cause, and these guys need to be ired and prosecuted for their role in this."