Saturday, September 15, 2012

The latest smear: Republicans dishonestly accuse President Obama of "skipping" intelligence briefings

By Michael J.W. Stickings

President Obama, on a secure iPad, with Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration Robert Cardillo -- January 31, 2012.

Basically, Republicans can say anything they want, and make any ridiculous accusation to try to make President Obama look bad, and suddenly the accusation becomes part of the national discussion, with the media treating the accusation like a legitimate point worthy of serious coverage and consideration.

I'm fucking tired of it. Fucking, fucking, fucking tired of it.

The latest accusation, given prominence initially by Dick Cheney (who made it in an interview with the right-wing Daily Caller the day before 9/11 last week), comes in the context of the Times's remarkable report, published the same day, that the ignorance, incompetence, and stunning gross negligence of the Bush-Cheney administration prior to 9/11 was even worse than we knew -- "The Deafness Before the Storm."

Suddenly on the defensive, Cheney lashed out at Obama, saying that the president wasn't "participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis," the implicaton being that Obama is less engaged than his predecessor and possibly even a threat to national security.

And it didn't stop with Cheney. After the Times report and a terrible week for Romney on the foreign policy front, Republicans, with Romney-booster Karl Rove right out in front, are going all-in on this ridiculous accusation, and the media are playing right along.

Consider the title of a piece at ABC News: "Is President Obama 'Skipping' Intelligence Briefings?" Yes, the piece provides the White House response, quoting Press Secretary Jay Carney and noting that the president "religiously reads a written version of the same prepared material, often on a secure iPad (as seen in this official White House PHOTO). He often receives an in-person briefing in addition, aides note, as well as real-time national security updates during the day, both in the office and on the road." But not before taking the Republican accusation seriously and turning the issue into a Crossfire-style debate between two supposedly equal, and equally valid, sides:

Conservative critics of President Obama are accusing him of "skipping" daily intelligence briefings throughout his first term and in the days leading up to this week's deadly attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya.

The anti-Obama super PAC American Crossroads levels the charge in a new Web ad HERE.

Right-leaning bloggers and American Enterprise Institute scholar and Washington Post columnist Marc

Thiessen make the case HERE and HERE.

But the substance of the charge, aimed at undermining Obama's credibility as commander in chief, appears to be more a matter of semantics than hard fact.

Uh, no. It's not a matter of semantics, it's a matter of Republicans being dishonest and smearing the president, accusing him of shirking his responsibilities and weakening the country, putting Americans at risk.

Of course, if you look at the facts, he's doing nothing of the kind. President Obama is highly engaged, significantly more so than Bush. And he isn't just consuming information, he's actively questioning the information and analysis he's given, pressing to make sure it's right and asking for alternative analyses and additional information so he can understand what's going on in a highly complex world as fully as possible and make the informed decisions one should expect from the president of the United States.

Indeed, far from shirking his responsibilities and weakening the country, he's taking his responsibilities with the utmost seriousness and strengthening the country by providing mature, responsible leadership, understanding in detail the issues and options he confronts each and every day.

Bush may have preferred oral briefings, but Obama, like Clinton before Bush, takes a more diverse approach -- one that, it seems to me, leads to greater engagement with the challenging issues of the day. He doesn't just want to be told what's going on, he wants to read the materials for himself and push back as required:

"He does both all the time, all the time," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters [yesterday]. "And when he is here in Washington, he has briefings in person in the Oval Office with his national security team regularly. And when he is on the road, he has phone conversations that supplement and augment the briefings he receives on paper that are specific to the so-called PDB. I hardly think that is different from previous presidents."

Actually, I'd say that makes him quite a bit more engaged, and quite a bit more responsible, than his predecessor. He likes to read, and he wants to know more, and he wants to be able to make decisions based on as much information and with as much comprehensive analysis as possible.

Cheney, other Bush apologists, and the various other Republicans now attacking the president, partly to defend their own massive incompetence and partly to help the struggling Romney, are adding to the Republican narrative that Obama isn't up to the job.

But the record is clear, and even clearer following the Times report: It was Bush and Cheney and their minions in the White House and Pentagon who were negligent and irresponsible, and it's Romney who is unqualified, unprepared, and unfit for the presidency.

Meanwhile, President Obama is doing his job -- and doing it extremely well.

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  • Yep, lets have another discussion of the POTUS of the US continuing to read My pet Goat to kids while the US was under attack.
    And then have that same POTUS flying around the country, while the VP remains in Washington.
    Yep, craven indifference.
    And even when they received a warning that something big was going to happen in the US, they ignored it.

    Yes, lets bring that up again and ask people to vote republican!!!!

    By Blogger dianedp, at 9:24 AM  

  • Republicans have been trying to "create" an Obama they want to run against, rather then run against the Obama that actually exists.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 AM  

  • Perhaps Bush preferred oral briefings because of his inability to read anything more complex than "My Pet Goat".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 AM  

  • Romney and Ryan to get security briefings starting this week. This is going to turn out to be a big breech of security when they start running off there mouth about the issues. Just for political gain.

    By Anonymous ourdad, at 12:02 PM  

  • Bush needed someone to read it to him, with milk and cookies.

    By Blogger Glennis, at 1:28 PM  

  • The children were reading to Bush; in essence they were briefing him on the pet goat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 PM  

  • Thank God for President Obama is all I can say. Hey, as "Fix News" drones repeat every second..."Some people say" that Romney actually paid for this film and then paid the attackers who killed our ambassador and 3 others." "Some people say" that is why he couldn't wait to pull the trigger at midnight BEFORE the murders, because he had set the hit in motion.....just saying.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:33 PM  

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