Obama and the Psychology of a Country

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Stephen Hayes, an investigative reporter for The Weekly Standard, reports that Obama Administration scandals around war-on-terror intelligence are nothing new:

Readers of this magazine are familiar with the story of the documents obtained in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Sensitive Site Exploitation team on the raid collected more than a million documents​—​papers, computer hard drives, audio and video recordings. Top Obama administration officials at first touted the cache as the greatest collection of terrorist materials ever captured in a single raid and boasted that the contents would fill a “small college library.” An interagency intelligence team, led by the CIA, conducted the initial triage​—​including keyword searches of the collection for actionable intelligence. And then, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials with firsthand knowledge of the controversy, the documents sat largely untouched for as long as a year. The CIA retained “executive authority” over the documents, and when analysts from other agencies requested access to them, the CIA denied it​—​repeatedly.

After a bitter interagency dispute, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, allowed analysts from CENTCOM and the Defense Intelligence Agency to have time-limited, read-only access to the documents. What they found was fascinating and alarming. Much of what these analysts were seeing​—​directly from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders​—​contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly.

The issue has bubbled up, again, because “more than 50 intelligence analysis” have come forward with complaints that their findings have been altered somewhere high up the chain of command.  Want to bet more Americans know that Donald Trump made fun of a disabled reporter than that some higher-ups in the president’s administration appear to have modified intelligence and stonewalled analysts for the sake of the president’s reelection campaign?

Political bias is clearly in play when it comes to what stories mainstream journalists pursue and how they frame them, but some of the blame falls on the market, as well.  A great number of people have voted for Barack Obama, and the more decisively he proves to be an ideological and functionally incompetent charlatan, the less they’d be inclined to pay attention to his performance.  Meanwhile, others have now more than once been through the exhausting process of learning about some major scandal, fighting back against the mainstream spin and public incredulity, and watching the whole thing fade into the surge of another scandal.

So, the country has pretty much settled into an understanding that the president is a terrible amplifier of an untrustworthy government, and that it’s ultimately voters’ fault.  People don’t want the blame, and they don’t want to change the unhealthy impulses that will inevitably lead to our current political condition.  The attitude is therefore to turn away while the bumbler-in-chief finishes out his term and just hope for something better next time around.

That would certainly fit Pew poll results showing only 19% trust in government and only 34% trust in the general public, but a majority still want the government to do things for them.



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