Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


September 10, 2014: The Crisis of Truth in the White House

By Rob Tenery, MD on September 10, 2014

In my adult life, I have witnessed four Presidents that, in one way or another, have been involved in situations that have created questions concerning their credibility and that of their administrations.

The first was Nixon and the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on June 12, 1972. Although some may disagree, if it were not for the dogged efforts of investigative reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, at the Washington Post, Nixon’s unlawful act might have gone undetected. The Watergate scandal drove Nixon out of office, not necessarily because of the act itself, but for the cover-up he perpetuated.

Next, was President Bill Clinton and his tryst with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Although his escapades with the young intern did irreversible damage to the reputation of the office of the President, it was his lying to Congress that moved the House of Representatives to vote to impeach him.

In March, 2003, President George W. Bush authorized a massive invasion of Iraq that came to be known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The justification for President Bush’s decision was to wipeout Iraq’s chemical weapon reserves and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Bolstered by Hussein’s history of using chemical weapons on the Kurds in 1988, the dictator’s lack of cooperation with United Nation’s Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors and his invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Bush won the overwhelming support of Congress for the United States’ invasion, as well as the support of his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Although no weapons of mass destruction were ever found, based on the best intelligence available, the President believed he was right calling for the invasion. Bush’s intelligence turned out to be wrong, but the President and his representatives did not intentionally mislead the American people and Congress.

On September 11, 2012, the American Ambassador to Libya and three other American citizens were attacked and massacred by Islamic militant terrorists in Benghazi. The initial report, by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was that the attacks were a spontaneous protest, triggered by an anti-Muslim video, Innocence of Muslims.  Witnesses on the ground, as well as those who made up the United States military presence in the area, quickly determined that this was not a spontaneous attack triggered by the anti-Muslim video, but a planned act of terrorism. The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, testified he personally broke the news to the President that the U.S. diplomatic post was “under attack” that night.

A recently revealed email, dated September 14, 2012, by Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Director for Strategic Communications, to the United State’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other higher ups in the Obama administration, encourages Rice to underscore that “the events in Benghazi were protests instigated by an Internet video and not a broader failure in the President’s policy on Al-Qaeda.” Ambassador Rice then testified on the Sunday morning talk shows on September 16 to that effect.  Two weeks later, the President still referred to the Benghazi attack as rooted in protest to the anti-Muslim video, when clearly all those directly involved in the attack knew that the President’s assertions were not based on the facts.

There is no concrete proof that the close proximity to the upcoming November 6, Presidential election played a role in the administration’s apparently incorrect assertions in the face of conflicting evidence. However, the implications have raised suspicions that, hopefully, will be addressed by the upcoming House of Representatives’ Select Committee’s investigation.  Either the President and his administration will be exonerated or, as with the Watergate scandal that ended Nixon’s tenure, Obama’s continuing influence while he is in the White House could be in question.

Increasingly, the media has exerted its own opinion into ‘reporting’ the news; at least as how they see it.  During President Kennedy’s tenure, his numerous indiscretions barely caused a blip. It was as if the media took on the role of protecting his legacy, like they had for at least several of Kennedy’s flirtatious predecessors. The exposure of Nixon’s attempted cover-up may have been the media’s finest hour, as the disgraced Nixon waved his tearful farewell before boarding the ‘Air Force One’ helicopter, rather than face an almost certain impeachment. Then Clinton came along with multiple tales of infidelity long before he ascended to the Presidency. The press seemed almost numb to Clinton’s escapades, until a confidant of White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Defense Department co-worker Linda Tripp, turned over her secretly recorded tapes of telephone calls where Lewinsky shared stories of her escapades with Clinton, to Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel, who was investigating him on other matters. Only when Clinton was caught in a lie over the meaning of having sex, did he face the humiliation of impeachment.

As the first African American to rise to the office of President with an agenda of ‘Hope and Change’ creating new opportunities for the downtrodden and the oppressed, Barack Obama became the standard bearer for the liberal media. To them, his assent to power was akin to the ‘second coming’ after John Kennedy. From the start of his first campaign for the nation’s highest office, the media coddled him. Even today, in the midst of scandals over Benghazi, the continuing flood of illegals across our southern border, the IRS, the NSA and the VA, they faithfully shelter him from the ‘hard’ questions.

The appointment of the House of Representatives’ Select Committee to fully investigate the Benghazi tragedy could be Obama’s day-of-reckoning. If the committee members can put aside their bias, the truth should eventually come out.

If the conclusion of the Select Committee favors the President, the Republicans could lose big time in their fight to regain control of the Senate. Additionally, a win would surely carry on to a Democratic victory in the next Presidential election in 2016.

If the Democrats on the Select Committee try to stonewall the efforts of the committee, their party will be seen as obstructionists. If they willingly participate, and the findings go against the President and his administration, there is a reasonable chance that they will have given up any opportunity for control of the nation’s capital for the next six years.

To echo the ill-fated comment of ex-Secretary-of-State, Hillary Clinton, when she blurted out, “What difference, at this point, does it make how these men died?” before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2013. The answer is a lot! It matters that the State Department failed to act on Ambassador Stevens’ request for more security for the U. S. Diplomatic mission. It matters that when the attack began, and even when it was continuing throughout the night, no American forces were deployed, until it was too late to save those four American lives. It matters that our President and his representatives continued to call the assault on the mission a ‘random act of reprisal’ because of an anti-Muslim video, instead of a planned terrorist attack, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Not to take anything away from the importance of the tragic loss of four American lives, the Select Committee will try to determine if our President and his representatives lied to the American people. Secondarily, if the ruse over the inflammatory video was a lie, was it done to protect the President’s claims that he had Al Qaeda ‘on the run’, and thus, hoping to assure him a second term in office?

The ability of the Select Committee to get to the ‘truth’ is not only a referendum on this President, but also a test of the credibility of the media in this country that support him.

 

 

 





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