Apr
04
2011

LAT Finds Anonymous White House Truth-Teller

A brave, truth-telling whistleblower has emerged to tell the White House's side of the story in the Libya War. The inside scoop appears in a Los Angeles Times article by Christi Parsons (4/2/11) headlined, "For Obama, a Carefully Calculated Delay on Justifying Libya Airstrikes."

Are you confused by the White House's decision-making on Libya? Fear not–everything has gone according to plan. Like, for instance, the delay in public explaining the decision to bomb:

The timing was deeply controversial, but was designed to be a major part of the message itself, unfolding as the U.S. chalked up a measure of achievement in Libya and appeared to back away from lead management of the international military effort there.

The delay helped to underscore the key ideas Obama wants to drive home: that the commitment differs dramatically from the deep investment of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars he inherited, largely because the U.S. shares responsibility for it with a broad coalition of international and regional partners.

To an American audience weary and skeptical after years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama wanted to explain his reasoning when he could also demonstrate some closure.

"Instead of saying, 'I promise this is the way it's going to be,' he was able to go before the American people and say, 'Here's what I said I would do, and I did it,'" said one senior administration official, who requested anonymity to discuss the deliberations….

Some liberals joined with conservatives in objecting that Obama owed the country an explanation right away–if not before the attack.

But Obama's advisers said they wanted to break out of past practice on messaging, much like the president was breaking with the foreign policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

"We wanted to make the point that this was not an Iraq-like war engagement," said the official. "The commitment was limited in duration and scope, and so the ways in which you deliver that message help convey it. It's not just what you say but how you say it."

Got it?

The Times also notes that some of Obama's left critics were miffed by the delay in explaining the purpose of the war: "Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) questioned a commitment to act without debate in Congress." To which the paper responded:

But steering clear of the trappings of wartime gravity could help Obama counter skeptical public perceptions.

Did that analysis come from the anonymous White House official, or is that Parsons' own contribution? Whatever the case, if ignoring the constitutional requirement that Congress authorize all wars can help us steer clear of the "trappings of wartime gravity" and "counter skeptical public perceptions," perhaps it's all worth it.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.