Some people have the wrong idea about the article published yesterday in the New York Times, describing Barack Obama’s personal administration of drone killing around the world. They think the article “exposes” the wrongful conduct of Obama and his administration, that it will spark outrage, and that it will bring about change.
The article is a team memo from the Obama 2012 campaign.
What people need to understand is that the average reader skips right through the fog of legal and moral concepts and sees only the parts that reassure his/her reptilian brain.
The article is laced with sentences such as . . .
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go.”
“He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”
[T]he control he exercises also appears to reflect Mr. Obama’s striking self-confidence: he believes, according to several people who have worked closely with him, that his own judgment should be brought to bear on strikes.
“After that, as president, it seemed like he felt in his gut the threat to the United States.”
People read these sentences and they say, “Gee, I guess this guy Obama will protect me from harm. We sure are lucky to have such a strong man at the helm of our ship of state.”
As such, the article accomplished precisely what it set out to do: put a stake in the ground for Obama 2012 partisans: “This is the candidate; you MUST support him!” For those who doubt this interpretation, this statement from the article about the involvement of Obama’s chief re-election strategist should suffice: “David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, began showing up at the ‘Terror Tuesday’ meetings, his unspeaking presence a visible reminder of what everyone understood: a successful attack [against the United States] would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and achievements.”
It’s hard to fault people for absorbing these rapid-fire suggestions and internalizing them. I just have one request: every time people think of “Mr. Forceful,” they imagine his image side-by-side with that of one of his victims.