At the end of the classic film, The Godfather, Michael Corleone – by then The Don to all the capos and soldiers of his family – confronts his traitorous brother-in-law, Carlo, with the question, “Ahh, did you think that little [charade] you played with my sister could fool a Corleone?”
With apologies to Mario Puzo, I would paraphrase that question and ask Signor Obama and his capos: Did you really think that little diversionary charade you’ve been playing with the media could fool a serious American?
The charade I refer to has been very successful for the Obama administration. In it the ladies and gentlemen of what we used to call “the press” have been turned into mere bloodhounds who run baying after every new scent that drifts in. When the flag goes up, they instantly drop everything else, serious or not, to chase the newest sensational news. This is great sport for news-biz jocks, as well as highly entertaining for pols who enjoy seeing the hounds run. It’s what young, ambitious reporters live for. But it also suits perfectly the purposes of government weenies who like to keep the media’s attention off inconvenient situations. New diversions are always coming along, of course, but the current White House gang is not above manufacturing diversions just to make sure that the media hounds are kept well away from dark corners that the Obamanistas prefer to keep dark.
This is, in fact, a classic strategy taken directly from the Radical Playbook. It instructs governing officials to use (or create) sensational events to occupy the front pages – thus diverting the public’s attention away from inconvenient items. By the time the new item runs its course, the disadvantageous situation might be resolved – or possibly, if fortune truly smiles, will have gone down the media memory-hole to be entirely forgotten.
If all this seems fanciful or far-fetched, permit me to cite President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska – an American president’s much-hyped, first-ever trip above the Arctic Circle. (Is this really our president’s most urgent business? Or is it just an opportunity to escape DC’s summer heat?) Reporters wearing fashionable wilderness outfits have been breathlessly sending back dispatches for days about our Chief Climatologist’s warnings on how climate-change is melting the polar ice (it happens every summer), threatening the polar bears (unproven), ruining our precious natural wonders; yadda-yada-yadda. He says we must act quickly to “save the planet.” (Scientists say the earth has not warmed measurably since 1998. No specific evidence indicates that our climate is actually changing.)
Mr. Obama’s “historic” trip, which has occupied the front pages for most of a week, was capped by the stunning announcement that he has issued an executive order changing the name of Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak, to Denali – an Inupiak word that means “the high one.” (Rumors that the new name was actually pushed by the marijuana lobby remain unconfirmed.) Pundits on both political sides in the USA continue to obsess over both the name and the way the change was made, with those in the Obama camp praising his clever use of executive power to accomplish this “important” change, and opponents decrying Democrats’ current mania for trying to rewrite our history. (President McKinley was, after all, a Republican whose memory must be erased.)
These are fairly harmless examples of the Obama Family’s creation of news to divert media- and public-attention. But the strategy is not always so benign. Consider, for instance, the high-profile media and political campaign being waged on the police for their “racist” enforcement practices. The Obama administration has gone out of its way to make a federal case for it, starting with the bizarre incident involving Henry Louis Gates, a black historian who was arrested in 2009 when he appeared to be breaking into a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (The house actually was his; he had forgotten his keys.) Police, who did not recognize Dr. Gates on sight, arrested him when he reacted belligerently to their inquiries. Without knowing all the facts, President Obama – a personal friend of Dr. Gates – said on national TV that the Cambridge police had acted “stupidly,” thereby elevating the case into a national race-issue involving the police.
Last year, however, things took a more serious turn. In Ferguson, Missouri, a white policeman shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, during an altercation in which (according to some reports) the strapping teen might have tried to wrestle Officer Darren Wilson’s sidearm away from him. After a conflicting version of the incident – claiming that Brown was shot while he was trying to surrender – went viral, violent demonstrations broke out, causing much property damage and numerous injuries.
Race-agitator Al Sharpton immediately decamped to the scene, and U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder inflated the situation into a national racial incident by flying to Ferguson to assure black leaders that his DoJ would see that “justice” was done. A grand jury later determined, based on eyewitness testimony, that Officer Wilson did not use excessive force in the shooting. He was not charged with a state crime. Efforts to charge him with a federal civil-rights violation collapsed under the weight of exonerating evidence.
But the War on the Police was just getting cranked up. In April of this year a young black man named Freddie Gray died while in police-custody in Baltimore. Rioting and looting subsequently erupted in the city. After violent confrontations between rioters and police injured some twenty officers, the city’s young black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, ordered police to stand down and give the rioters “space” to express themselves.
Following several days of destructive rioting, Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan ordered National Guard troops to the city to restore order. The final tally, over a period of three weeks, included 250 people arrested, 300 to 350 businesses damaged, 150 vehicle fires, 60 building fires, and 27 drugstores looted. Damage is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Analysts estimate that Baltimore’s modernization and improvement efforts may have been set back twenty years. Some wonder if the city will ever truly recover.
Since the Baltimore riots, other incidents involving police-shootings of blacks have been trumpeted by liberal media and pundits as proof that a major racial problem exists between local law enforcement and minorities. That exaggerated publicity has produced a perverse environment in which some criminals evidently feel empowered to attack both police and ordinary citizens – sometimes without provocation. Unprovoked shootings of police officers now seem almost commonplace. On August 31, a veteran policeman was shot to death for no apparent reason by three men in Fox Lake, Illinois. At this writing, the suspects remain at large, while state police and FBI agents conduct a major manhunt across northern Illinois and into nearby Wisconsin. The suspects are considered armed and dangerous.
Days earlier, on August 26, a ghastly crime occurred at Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Virginia. A young black man fatally shot a female television reporter and her male cameraman – both white – while they filmed an interview of a third person, who was also wounded, but not fatally. The killer – a former colleague of the two murder victims at Roanoke TV station WDBJ – was later found fatally wounded, apparently by his own hand. Police have learned that he was known for racial animosity and violent attitudes, which had, in fact, caused his dismissal from the television station.
These and other similar events are horrible crimes which obviously deserve media attention. But is it just a coincidence that these wretched events are happening now, when so many pressing national issues – e.g., the Iran nuclear deal, possible security-breaches linked to Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecure, private e-mail server, and the thorough examination of all presidential candidates’ views and intentions – ought to be the media’s main focus? Murders, with racial overtones, of both policemen and ordinary citizens are grabbing headlines night after night, while important matters that should be continually in front of the public lie on the cutting-room floor. Who benefits from this?
Here’s the key question: Was the permissive environment produced by federal and state officials’ injection of race into local police-situations engineered by White House strategists, who anticipated sensational derivative events at propitious times? In other words, were the seeds of discord deliberately sown in order to reap a “harvest” of timely diversion later? The question is certainly provocative, and may be unanswerable, but it is worth asking.
In point of fact, destabilization is also a classic leftist strategy for gaining greater political control of a society. First, you create conditions which produce chaos and insecurity. Then you ride in to “save the day” by proposing new laws, higher taxes (on the rich!) and more governmental control. Voila! – you’re a hero. Some political observers are openly asking if the police racial “crisis” might presage a federal takeover of local police forces.
Yes, yes, I know – all this is just a coincidence, the product of a fevered imagination. Some readers will probably think I’ve really gone round the bend on this, and I can hardly blame them. (Full disclosure: I hold a lifetime membership in the Grassy Knoll Society of conspiracy theorists.) Short of some deserter from the Obama inner-circle writing a tell-all book, we’ll probably never know if there’s any basis in fact for my wild theories about the Obama capos generating news events to keep public attention diverted away from certain issues. But the convenient timing and the media’s easy distraction are worrisome. We need to keep them in mind.
The Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary… goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour…” Of course, the writer, St. Peter, is referring to the Devil in this passage (I Peter 5:8). He had no notion of leftist playbooks, news-managing, etc. Yet the warning remains appropriate for our time. And Jesus, himself, said, “I send you out as sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
And long after the above words were penned, Ronald Reagan – who knew plenty about leftists – advised us to “trust, but verify.” Not exactly apostolic, but still sound counsel.
We live in dangerous times that call for vigilance, clear minds, and stout hearts.