Obama accused of misleading voters on Benghazi, Obamacare, Merkel. There's a pattern here
By Tim Stanley US politics Last updated: October 29th, 2013
We all expect presidents to be "economical with the truth" at least once in their career – but in the last few days Barack Obama's administration has been charged with telling no fewer than three fibs on three separate subjects. And these aren't falsehoods of the trivial "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" variety. They go to the very heart of how Obama runs his White House and governs his country. I am not saying that he's guilty of personal deceit, but the widely publicised accusations are as follows:1. CBS says that the Obama administration knew all along that what happened at Benghazi was a planned terrorist attack.
Its 60 Minutes news show discovered two security advisers who say that months before the attack on the US embassy, al-Qaeda threatened to assault the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans. And – surprise, surprise – they went on to assault the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans. The takeaway is that the administration was warned that its personnel were at risk and, by implication, its slow military response and garbled explanation when the attack eventually took place cannot be blamed on ignorance.2. NBC says that the Obama administration misled Americans when it claimed that, after the introduction of Obamacare, people who wanted to keep their existing health insurance plans could do so.
In fact, "for at least three years … the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them." The result for affected consumers could be a dramatic rise in cost – NBC quotes one poor guy whose premium threatens to jump by 415 per cent. The implication is that Obama tried to reduce popular concerns about Obamacare by fudging its true impact.3. There are conflicting reports over whether or not Obama knew about the tapping of Angela Merkel's phone.
The Wall Street Journal says that he was "unaware" this was going on. The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag says that he's the one who ordered the bugging in the first place. As TechCrunch points out, either narrative looks bad for the Prez. If he did give the order then he's an authoritarian who snoops on his allies. If he didn't, then he's not entirely in control of his own administration.
And in all these stories, it's the same pattern. If Obama is guilty of misleading the public then it says something very troubling about his imperial presidency – playing fast and loose with the facts to its own self-interested advantage. Alternatively, the administration didn't take reports on what was brewing in Benghazi seriously enough, didn't really figure out the impact of Obamacare on the consumer and lost control of the security services when they bugged Merkel – all of which points to a mix of negligence and incompetence. Neither interpretation reflects well on this embattled president.