I’ve sort of been listening along during the president’s pre-holiday press availability while doing other stuff.
I liked the question — I forget who asked it, and pressed it, but he was pretty insistent — that amounted to this: Mr. President, several months ago you said the NSA wasn’t doing anything wrong. Why do you think the procedures need to be changed now?
It was a good question. The president was right — there was nothing wrong with our surveillance programs then, and there isn’t now. What has happened is that the drip, drip, drip of details — which haven’t revealed anything significant regarding policy itself, but have merely attached names and specifics (things we did not need to know), and it has had an erosive effect on public opinion. Exactly as Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald intended.
And while he sort of danced around it, the president essentially said that: There’s nothing wrong with these programs, but political opinion has changed, so we’re reacting to that. And the way we’re reacting is that we’re looking for ways to get the intel job done with some procedural changes that make people feel better.
Which is not terrible in and of itself. But I would much, much rather that the president stand up to this propaganda campaign by two people who are trying to harm this nation, and argue against the public impression that their efforts have created. Because by reacting by making changes — or even reacting by trying to make it appear that we are making changes — tells any other minor players with a God complex that if they betray this country by disclosing classified information with which they have been entrusted, they will achieve their goals.
That creates an extremely dangerous precedent.
Now, as to the Obamacare comments, two things jumped out.
I reacted initially the way Ali Weinberg did: “Has Obama ever said before that he was only meeting with health care team ‘every other week, every three weeks’?”
But about two seconds later, I reflected that hey, having a meeting every two or three weeks with a bunch of underlings to make sure they’re doing their jobs is fairly often, given that a POTUS does have a few other responsibilities. It’s way short of micromanaging, but it’s more than “only.”
Then, I noticed that CBSNews reported, “Obama takes blame on health care rollout: ‘Since I’m in charge, we screwed it up’.”
Ummm… no, not really. In fact, when I heard him say it, it struck me as a case of verbal contortion, in an effort to fall just short of taking the blame personally.
That’s really a bizarre construction: “Since I’m in charge” sounds like he’s about to take the blame, but “we screwed it up” rather startlingly shares the blame with others.
I haven’t heard an acceptance of responsibility that tortured since “Mistakes were made.”
Any other thoughts on the president’s remarks today?