October 7, 2009

The word of the day is "scapegoats"

Aside from the ever-present George W. Bush, Team Obama has a growing legion of scapegoats that it is using in it's own political defense.  Today alone there were two articles that Hot Air linked using the word of the day or a surrogate in their headlines or tag line with respect to the Obama White House.

George Bush will forever be to the left, the ghost of scapegoats past.  He was responsible for America-haters, presumably up to and including the terrorists of 9/11 and thereafter.  But just because he was a past scapegoat, he can still continued to be blamed for things, right?  Not even mentioned in the current round of scapegoating of President Bush is the failed Chicago Olympic bid.  In fairness, I've heard Jesse Jackson and Roland Burris have blamed President Bush, but not the White House (not that I'm aware of, in  any case). 

But certainly the White House and the President in particular set the tone with the whole apology tour, the "sins of the past" mentality, and the we're better than that attitude.  It's easy for liberals to fall into the everything-is-Bush's-fault mentality.  I'm sure the White House couldn't be more pleased by that, except that the Bush bashing mantra is wearing thin.  We're 3/4 of a year into Obama's Presidency.  With each passing day using former President Bush as a scapegoat strains credibility just a little bit more.  Soon even liberals won't buy it.

The solution for the White House is to move on to the ghosts of scapegoat present and scapegoat future.  The obvious ghost of scapegoat present is General McCrystal. The Hot Air link is entitled Four Star Scapegoat, here's the oringinal WSJ story:
Democrats have found someone worth fighting in Afghanistan. His name is Stan McChrystal.

The other night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went after the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, "with all due respect," for supposedly disrespecting the chain of command. Around the Congressional Democratic Caucus, we're told Members refer to General McChrystal as "General MacArthur," after the commander in Korea sacked by Harry Truman.

White House aides have fanned these flames with recent leaks to the media that "officials are challenging" his assessment asking for more troops. In the last two days, the White House National Security Adviser and the Secretary of Defense have both suggested that the general should keep his mouth shut. President Obama called him in Friday for a talking-to on the tarmac at Copenhagen airport.

Though a decorated Army four-star officer, the General's introduction to Beltway warfare is proving to be brutal. To be fair, Gen. McChrystal couldn't know that his Commander in Chief would go wobbly so soon on his commitment to him as well as to his own Afghan strategy when he was tapped for the job in AprilWe're told by people who know him that Gen. McChrystal "feels terrible" and "had no intention whatsoever of trying to lobby and influence" the Administration. His sense of bewilderment makes perfect sense anywhere but in the political battlefield of Washington. He was, after all, following orders.
Trying to deflect blame for the waffling is as much a mis-direction play as it is scapegoating.  Nevertheless, the "don't blame me" attitude is the undercurrent of the whole thing.  Attitude may be a misnomer too.  It may be a tactical ploy to sway voters into believing that the troubles the nation faces now, and over the next three years are through no fault of the President.  He's just the one tasked with saving the world, which will of course take time.  There's so many people who fouled up, and there's so much for this President to fix.  The cards are really stacked against him - you have to give him more time.  After all, despite the mess and the rising unemployment, he's saved 40 million jobs don't-you-know.

That ploy requires a fresh supply of sacraficial scapegoats, and there are more coming.  The other scapegoat story is more the ghost of scapegoat future.  This time, either to be perceived as post-partisan, or knowing that there is no Republican that can be blamed (or perhaps both), the scapegoat is from inside the administration.  How novel.  It's the type of trick that makes those who pay scant attention to politics and/or who might be wavering on the President to fall hook line and sinker for the myth. 

In the case of our ghost of scapegoat future, Politico discusses Obama's blame game on the failure to close the Gitmo detention center.  The scapegoat - one of their own.

Greg Craig, the top in-house lawyer for President Barack Obama, is getting the blame for botching the strategy to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison by January — so much so that he’s expected to leave the White House in short order.

But sources familiar with the process believe Craig is being set-up as the fall guy and say the blame for missing the deadline extends well beyond him.

Instead, it was a widespread breakdown on the political, legislative, policy and planning fronts that contributed to what is shaping up as one of Obama’s most high-profile setbacks, these people say.

The White House misread the congressional mood – as it found out abruptly in May, when the Senate voted 90-6 against funds for closing the base after Republicans stoked fears about bringing prisoners to the U.S. The House also went on record last week opposing bringing Gitmo detainees here.

The White House misread the public mood – as roughly half of Americans surveyed say they disagree with Obama’s approach. A strong element of NIMBY-ism permeates those results, as Americans say they don’t want the prisoners in their backyards.

But most of all Obama’s aides mistook that political consensus from the campaign trail for a deep commitment in Washington to do whatever it takes to close the prison.
If people believe that the President isn't at fault and that everything is just circumstantial, they may give him the benefit of the doubt - and the benefit of another vote.  That may be a cynical view of the political ambition involved, but what is the alternative?  The President really believes that there is someone else to blame for every problem?  Is that the type of person you want as your leader?  Have we gone from "The buck stops here" to "It wasn't me." or "The buck stops over there somewhere." or "It's above my pay grade."?  Apparently so.  And they will keep using that scapegoat tool until people stop falling for it.  They're counting on that taking some time.

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