Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Do You Trust This Man?

Ron Fournier a liberal columnist at National Journal wrote a piece we quoted from a few days ago that was very critical of Barack Obama. This week he sounds even more upset that the man in whom he had invested so much hope seems so untrustworthy:
Especially when it comes to the presidency, Americans tend to trust their guts, and in Obama's case, lately, something doesn't feel right. Can I trust this guy?

There is a common element to the so-called Obama scandals—the IRS targeting of conservatives, the fatal attack in Benghazi, and widespread spying on U.S. journalists and ordinary Americans. It is a lack of credibility.

In each case, the Obama administration has helped make controversies worse by changing its stories, distorting facts, and lying.

The abuse of trust may be taking a toll on President Obama's reputation....

A month into Obama's presidency, 74 percent of Americans answered "yes," saying the terms "honest and trustworthy" applied to him .... This month, only 49 percent of Americans say Obama is honest and trustworthy. That is a 9-point drop since May 17-18. Obama still may be able to recover. But he would need to take immediate steps to show accountability, transparency, and credibility.

No more slow-walking the truth as the White House did with the cause of the Benghazi attacks and with the names of West Wing officials notified about IRS targeting. No more lies, such as the IRS claiming for months that the targeting did not take place, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denying the existence of the NSA programs weeks before they were revealed.

No more doublespeak such as the president earnestly claiming, "Your duly elected representatives have consistently been informed" of the NSA programs. He knew that wasn't quite true, or should have known.

Obama needs to take action, too.

The IRS scandal needs to be aggressively investigated, with the seizure of White House and Obama campaign e-mails as well as interviews, under oath, with members of Obama's team. Those responsible for the abuse must be punished....

There is no time to waste. Obama already has earned the ignominious distinction of running against Bush's surveillance programs, then adapting it as president, and expanding it. Does he also want to repeat his predecessor's credibility crisis?
All good advice, to be sure, but Fournier is basing it on the assumption that the White House has nothing to hide. Yes, the president should clean house, but what if it's his house that turns out to be dirty? In fact, it seems to me that given what the president has to lose in terms of his credibility by not being forthcoming about these matters it's overwhelmingly in his interest to find the guilty parties and get rid of them.

That he doesn't do this creates a presumption that perhaps the guilty parties are too close to home and that publicly humiliating them would induce them to divulge information unflattering to the president about why they undertook to do what they did. If the president doesn't clean up the mess then the American public is warranted in assuming that it's because he himself is part of it.

The Hummingbird's Tongue

This clip on how hummingbirds extract nectar from a flower is just a small excerpt from a wonderful new video by Illustra Media on birds:
The title of the video is Flight: The Genius of Birds. Watching it one marvels at the astonishing engineering of these creatures and the gorgeous beauty and diversity that pervades the avian world.

One also suspects that those who insist that this engineering and beauty are the accidental product of blind, undirected forces and processes must make quite an effort to suppress their doubts that intelligent agency played a role.