Certain liberal pundits are miffed that so much attention is being paid to the administration’s attempt to inflict harm on the public by ending White House tours.
On one level, this stunt (which the president is now furiously trying to end) is a much lesser infraction than, say, having no budget for nearly four years or telling falsehoods about layoffs or denying ownership of the sequester.
But in a way this is political karma. The Post editorial board has it exactly right: “The decision to drop White House tours always had a whiff of what’s known as Washington Monument syndrome. The ham-handed tactic is employed when government is faced with budget cuts and officials go after the services that are most visible and appreciated by the public. It’s a kind of bureaucratic hostage-taking, so the pushback that the Obama administration has encountered is a proper comeuppance.” Live by the Washington Monument syndrome, die by the Washington Monument syndrome.
It is hard to get your mind around $16 trillion in debt. But the cost of a First Family vacation in the hundreds of thousands? Why, that is outrageous! (It is how corporate budget meetings involving millions of dollars can devolve into how much is being paid for copier ink.) What the White House tour flap gets at — and why it drives the left batty — is the president’s flim-flammery (Charles Krauthammer calls it “an arm’s length relationship with the truth”).
Conservatives have complained about many more Obama administration Heisman poses with facts. Obamacare won’t add a dime to the budget. You will get to keep your insurance. If only we’d tax corporate jets, kids could go to college. We will see a time when our budget will not be adding to the debt. The Benghazi attack was part of a spontaneous protest.
On a large scale it is hard to pin down big untruths (especially with a compliant press passively or actively supporting White House spin), but in a discrete moment like punishing schoolkids by denying them a jaunt around the Blue Room we can see (and the media cannot ignore) an unpleasant reality: This guy is making stuff up.
Indeed, for the very same reason the left was incensed (“What difference does it make?!” hollered Hillary Clinton) over the prevaricating on Benghazi. For if the president would mislead about something like that, people might jump to the conclusion he was untrustworthy on other counts. And then where would we be?
Perhaps in dwelling on the White House tours, the media are making up for missed opportunities to pin the president down and rebut White House spin. So if they run a few extra stories on White House tour fibbing, you can understand. Think of it as compensation for five years of playing presidential lapdog.
One of the reporters who certainly has been tough on the White House, Jake Tapper, is beginning a new show on CNN. He says: “Whether it’s drones or Benghazi, I want to be an outlet that covers a lot of those stories. Whether it’s what effect Obamacare will have on businesses or the treatment of Bradley Manning. These are stories I will cover and they’re ones that maybe more liberals have an interest in one and maybe more conservatives have an interest in another, but I think that they’re important, and I hope that at this point, I have become an honest enough broker that viewers will tune in because they know that I will be able to get guests and ask tough questions regardless of the party affiliation of those I’m asking.”
Fabulous. So here are some suggestions:
Where is $85 billion in total nonsense spending we could eliminate tomorrow from the federal government?
What happened to that investigation over White House national security leaks?
How much money can be saved not by cutting personnel or equipment but by procurement and other Pentagon reforms?
Is Iraq better, worse or the same after the Iraq war? What about Afghanistan?
How many billions has the Education Department spent and what results have we gotten since it was established?
Why are so many people on food stamps and how much does the program cost?
What was the president doing on 9/11/12 and why did he perpetuate the false narrative for weeks afterward?
Who remains at Guantanamo and what are they accused of? What is the accurate figure for recidivism for those detainees who have been released?
What is the human rights record of the countries that sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council?
How much does Obamacare really cost, and what paperwork will businesses and individuals be responsible for filling out?
There are lots of these stories and lots of evidence of other instances in which the president has made stuff up (intentionally or not). Tapper’s show is so intriguing because so few in the mainstream media do this sort of thing — you know, report without the aim of bolstering or exonerating the White House. The mainstream media and punditocracy can leap on a White House tour story, but investigate politicization in the Justice Department? Look at the debt and increases in discretionary spending this president has racked up? Perish the thought.