SAN DIEGO, August 7, 2013 — President Obama has referred to “phony scandals” once again, this time to a group of high school students in Phoenix, Arizona on August 6. Although the primary subject of the speech was America’s housing market, this did not stop the President from taking advantage of another opportunity to plant effective talking points.
“But for most of this year,” he said, “An endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals have shifted focus from what we need to do to shore up the middle class. And as Washington heads towards another budget debate, the stakes could not be higher.”
So far in these speeches, the President has not stopped to list these “phony scandals” but any one who follows the news knows of a wide variety of subjects to chose from including; Benghazi, the AP/Fox issue, Fast and Furious, and the IRS singling out the Tea Party and other conservative groups by making it difficult for them to get their tax exempt status.
Although President Obama now calls the alleged scandals “phony” he sang quite a different tune when they first hit the news. At that time, grave concern was expressed. It is a classicly applied theory of abstract-distract defense.
Regarding the IRS, President Obama said back in May of 2015: “The misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency—but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.”
Those do not sound like the words of a man describing some “phony scandal.”
Similar expressions of anger were offered for each of the other news making controversies. Perhaps the President felt free to express outrage early on in the hopes that no trails would lead back to him.
On the other hand, in an ironic twist of fate, he may be benefiting from a plethora of “scandals” going on side by side. People have short attention spans. They also get easily overwhelmed. Too many problems at one time can turn American citizens numb to the point where they simply stop paying attention.
One juicy scandal like Watergate is captivating. A whole list of seemingly unrelated matters gets tedious. It also lends itself to the possibility that Obama’s enemies are simply making things up. Maybe his best defense for a multiplicity of scandals is to subtly suggest that too many accusations make the Republicans rather than the Democrats look suspicious.
President Obama is aware of the human propensity for brainwashing. Perhaps calculated repetition is his best weapon right now. By repeating the phrase “phony scandals” as if it were some kind of mantra, he is offering the simplest solution to an otherwise complex series of problems.
And it may just work.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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