Why do national reporters do such a transparently inaccurate (and insensitive) job of assessing terrorist attacks on President Obama's watch? On the front page of Saturday's Washington Post, reporter Scott Wilson spun furiously to avoid the obvious fact that candidate Obama's promises and President Obama's record on the War on Terror are remarkably at odds.
Worse yet, Wilson insisted that only the Boston Marathon bombings (death toll: three) counts as a "successful mass terrorist attack on Obama's watch," which completely avoids the mass shooting at Ford Hood by an Islamic radical (death toll: 13), which is often ridiculously categorized as workplace violence:
Only the bombings in Boston last year could be considered a successful mass terrorist attack on Obama’s watch, although there have been some near misses.
Fort Hood can't be put on a list of "near misses." Sadly, this isn't the first time Obama-friendly Scott Wilson had used this inaccurate, insensitive math that slaps the families of Fort Hood victims in the faced. Is this guy auditioning to be the next Jay Carney to revolve through the door into a White House PR job?
The online headline for this story was "Obama acknowledges real-world limits on changing U.S. intelligence practices." It's not "Obama acknowledges he ran a fake-world campaign running against Bush-Cheney intelligence practices."
Wilson looked ridiculous from the beginning, trying to suggest Obama has remained somehow consistent with Candidate Obama promising to eliminate all the Bush "excesses" in the War on Terror, noting a May 21, 2009 speech which lists clearly unfuliflled promises on Gitmo and trying the prisoners there:
Four months after taking office, President Obama spoke at the National Archives, steps away from the Constitution, and described in sharply critical terms “the season of fear” in the United States that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Torture had been practiced in interrogations. Terrorism suspects were held without trial in an offshore military prison. U.S. troops invaded a country without links to the attacks on New York and Washington. The National Security Agency was exposed for eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants.
“In other words,” Obama said, “we went off course.”
It was understood that Obama, the constitutional law lecturer, would find the country’s compass.
But as Obama acknowledged Friday, in a speech delivered just around the corner from the archives at the Justice Department, he is still navigating the politically complicated legacy of the “war on terror.” It is a legacy that has profound implications for his own as president....
Obama moved quickly to fulfill his pledge to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, although political obstacles have prevented him from seeing it through.
Somehow, the Post blames "political obstacles" and not Obama's political calculations about getting re-elected. The ACLU is brought in to discuss what still needs to be done, but ACLU chief Anthony Romero is not asked how he feels about how Obama did at pleasing the ACLU in his first five years in office.
James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal found the spinning for Obama's flip-floppery even more embarrassing with Peter Baker at The New York Times. This is too good to condense:
"Obama's Path From Critic to Overseer of Spying" is the headline of a New York Times story. The URL includes the word "defender" in place of "overseer," suggesting that an editor chose to soften the implication that Obama is a flip-flopper. And the story, by Peter Baker, casts the evolution of the president's views in a generally favorable light:
As a young lawmaker defining himself as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama visited a center for scholars in August 2007 to give a speech on terrorism. He described a surveillance state run amok and vowed to rein it in. "That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens," he declared. "No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime."
More than six years later, the onetime constitutional lawyer is now the commander in chief presiding over a surveillance state that some of his own advisers think has once again gotten out of control. On Friday, he will give another speech, this time at the Justice Department defending government spying even as he adjusts it to address a wave of public concern over civil liberties.
The journey between those two speeches reflects the transition from the backbench of the United States Senate to the chair behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Like other presidents before him, the idealistic candidate skeptical of government power found that the tricky trade-offs of national security issues look different to the person charged with using that power to ensure public safety.
One wonders if the next Republican president who faces a similar reckoning with reality will similarly get credit for having been "idealistic" in the past.
We also got a kick out of this bit: "Feeling little pressure to curb the security agencies, Mr. Obama largely left them alone until [Edward] Snowden began disclosing secret programs last year. Mr. Obama was angry at the revelations, privately excoriating Mr. Snowden as a self-important narcissist who had not thought through the consequences of his actions."
The familiar adage applies nicely here, which is not to say the kettle isn't also black.