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der Freitag, Germany

Noise Is Not Policy

By Konrad Ege

The noise of scandal-mongering is no substitute for policy, even if not all the facts are yet known about the scandals

Translated By Ron Argentati

23 May 2013

Edited by Jane Lee

Germany - der Freitag - Original Article (German)

The Republicans celebrate every new scandal they can use against the Obama administration and thereby hope to regenerate their party.

Republican politicians have been getting all worked up over the government's reputed spying on the Associated Press (AP) news agency to try to find out who was responsible for leaking information about CIA anti-terrorism activities in Yemen. As the AP reported a year ago, Republicans were complaining that Obama wasn't doing enough to investigate such leaks.

But Republicans are poorly positioned to level such criticism. They wallow in supposed Obama administration scandals: suspected falsifications regarding the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, which, as it turns out, mainly functioned as a CIA headquarters. Or Treasury Department restrictions on various tea party-allied branches and their attempts to kill Obama's health care reforms, a law that the House of Representatives voted unsuccessfully for the 37th time to overturn a week ago. The outrage consumes media talk shows and provides moral support to the right-wing base.

But the noise of scandal-mongering is no substitute for policy, even if not all the facts are yet known about the scandals. Republicans are having difficulties with the content of their messaging. Obama has co-opted the positions of many moderate Republicans while simultaneously convincing his own base that he's modern and cool enough to handle the changes in public opinion and society in America. America's political and economic elites seem to agree with the president. They want no part of petty social conservatism and support Obama in the certainty that Obama's economic and national security policies will be oriented toward the upper classes while the liberals and leftist opposition will be thwarted.

Authoritarian Presidency

Obama just nominated Penny Pritzker, one of America's richest women and a major donor to his campaign, to be the next secretary of commerce despite the fact that her Hyatt hotel chain is currently locked in a labor dispute with unions and the likelihood that much of her fortune lies in offshore tax havens. The top 1 percent isn't getting it all from Obama, and he in return makes concessions to his base and gets covered against attacks from the far right. Those in the know at the very top understand that.

That the AP had been monitored and its phone lines tapped fits with Obama's authoritarian presidency on security matters. He has withdrawn troops from Iraq, and those in Afghanistan will soon follow. But in mid-May, a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing has been debating whether to continue the 2001 resolution authorizing the U.S. president to unilaterally attack any and all nations or organizations with a connection to the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

The White House believes the resolution legitimizes Obama's use of unmanned drones and special operations forces from Pakistan to North Africa. Senators are of two minds on the issue, with some saying it no longer applies and that al-Qaida is now just a shadow of its former self. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Michael Sheehan saw no need to modify the resolution; when asked how long the war on terrorism is likely to last, he answered, “At least 10 to 20 years.”

Outrage, anyone?



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