The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Narrative

Both the Left and the Right have their narratives, but it is the Left that often ventures into the through-the-looking-glass world where saying something that's demonstrably false is perfectly okay, as long as it fits within a specific belief system. True becomes false and false becomes true.

For example, the latest terrorist threat warning demonstrates that Barack Obama was either very poorly informed about the strength of al Qaida during the last presidential campaign or he lied for political purposes. But that can't be, because the narrative among his many supporters in the MSM is that Obama is brilliant (so he could't possibly be ill-informed) and transformative (so he couldn't possibly stoop to dishonest political ploys).

Richard Fernandez gets to the kernel of the problem when he writes:
How could he [Obama] get it so wrong? The New York Times’s coverage of President Obama’s canceled summit with Putin illustrates one reason why. This time NYT argues that Putin would regret not meeting Obama.
In a statement, the White House said the president had decided to postpone the summit meeting between the two leaders after concluding that there had not been enough progress made on the “bilateral agenda” to make a meeting worthwhile. …

Mr. Obama’s decision to forgo the summit meeting with Mr. Putin, which was first reported by The Associated Press, is a blow to Mr. Putin that will deprive him of a high-profile moment on the worldwide stage. It also threatens to add to the already chilly relationship between the two countries.
Just think of it! Putin is missing out on the honor of meeting Obama. Now Putin won’t be invited to Leno. He’ll miss out on the chance to come out on Oprah. He must be crazy.

This is another case of the “wish being the father of the deed”. It is yet another instance of the Narrative being taken for reality. The NYT thinks Putin reasons like them. In the Narrative universe — the one which the NYT inhabits — Barack Obama is at the center of Washington and Washington is a center of the universe. If President Obama declares al Qaeda to be dead then al Qaeda must in fact be deceased. If President Obama supports the Syrian rebels, the Syrian rebels must be worthy of support. If President Obama decides not to meet the President of Russia then Putin is losing out.

It’s like Versailles in the days of Louis the XIV. The inmates cannot conceive that an external universe exists. One in which another sun shines more brightly than the Sun King.

Yet as as Bret Stephens [of the WSJ] points out, the Emperor has no clothes. He is manifestly capable of getting things fundamentally, spectacularly and catastrophically wrong. And the media elites are pathologically incapable of acknowledging this.
For me, that's the most galling thing of all. All presidents make bad decisions and all presidents get things wrong, sometimes spectacularly so. But the media used to call them on it and let the citizenry know that mistakes had been made. Things are very different with Barack Obama because the magnificence of this president is the narrative.

The narrative is also bolstered by omission. When discussion of poor domestic or foreign policy decisions can't be deflected, they are softened by omitting mention of the president, even when his actions were directly responsible for the decision. For example, one of the president's truly bad decisions was to escalate military actions in Afghanistan, thereby prolonging our involvement in that cesspool of corruption, anti-American sentiment, and hopelessness (none of which Barack Obama's policies have changed). You'd think that the media would emphasize the magnitude of this mistake, but again the Obama-as-flawless-leader narrative prevails. Richard Benedetto comments:
Majorities of Democrats and Republicans now say that the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting, according to a late-July ABC News-Washington Post poll.

That should be big news, but it created hardly a ripple out there in media land. Afghanistan is oh so yesterday.

We hardly ever hear a word about Afghanistan out of the White House, let alone from President Obama. The strategy appears to be that if the president stays out of it, he won’t get blamed, or at least it won’t be seen as his problem when things go bad. Thus, most of the administration’s public talk about Afghanistan comes from the Pentagon and military commanders in the field. The commander-in-chief rarely makes speeches on Afghanistan, and rates nary a mention in news accounts. And that, apparently, is the way he likes it.

It is not as if there has been no news reporting from that war-torn country. There has been quite a bit of it lately, but little has been good.

For example, a front-page story in Monday’s Washington Post details one of the big problems the United States faces is it winds down its military presence there: the closing of a notorious prison for enemy detainees dubbed “The Second Guantanamo.” The story outlining the headaches goes on for 1,320 words, but Obama is not directly mentioned once. There is a reference to the “Obama administration,” but there is no response in the story from the White House. Nor was one sought (or at least it wasn’t mentioned in the piece).
And that's how the president's Preatorian Guard in the MSM does its work.