It is ironic for a man whose entire political career has been based upon the artful exploitation of spin, illusion and dazzle-dazzle
The Old Razzle-Dazzle
Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
Give 'em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler
Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance
Chicago lawyer Billy Flynn, as played by Richard Gere in Chicago: The Musical (2002),
"Inexcusable… I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior"
The foregoing words were spoken by Barack Obama in response to the growing scandal at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), after disclosures that the agency was targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups, in effect using the IRS as a weapon against the political enemies of the White House. Obama announced that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had relieved IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller of his duties. Obama continued,
"I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. As I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,"
Just how gullible and stupid does this man think we are? From the looks of it, Obama and his top people think the citizens of this nation just fell off the turnip truck yesterday on the way into town. Does he really think anyone is still buying his line of unmitigated bull? What a liar this man is! In reality, Obama is using one of the oldest and most-underhanded political tricks in the book, a tactic some folks would call the "Potomac Two-Step." Obama probably learned it from former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley or maybe former President Bill Clinton – both of whom were past masters at the art of committing dirty tricks while keeping their hands clean. Here's how it works…
Once you move into the corner office and are in charge, you select your administration – the people who will actually implement your agenda. You choose carefully, and make certain your people know exactly what you want done, down to the smallest detail. You are careful not to leave your fingerprints on any of the instructions, but that isn't too tough, because – away from the cameras and microphones, of course – you have thoroughly briefed trusted subordinates on what you want. If anything is committed to paper or saved electronically, you are careful to cover your flanks in case anything goes wrong… what the pros call plausible deniability. That done, you get out of the way and set your people loose.
In this case, Obama and/or his top lieutenants undoubtedly made it clear at some point that they wouldn't be at all displeased if something "unfortunate" happened to those folks at the Tea Party or some of the other "conservative" groups on the political enemies list of the White House. Gee, wouldn't it be a shame if they were audited unexpectedly? Something along those lines. The way the game works is that the boss makes his wishes known implicitly, but not so explicitly that anything can be later tied to him. He must remain above the fray and appear as clean as driven snow – even when his arms are elbow-deep in the mud.
Now comes the tricky part: if things go according to plan, and that unexpected audit or other dirty trick punishes your political enemy and no one is any the wiser, you quietly congratulate your staff for a job well-done and go on as before. However, if your ploy backfires and blows up in your face – you need to do some fancy footwork. If public opinion is indifferent to your actions or otherwise preoccupied, you might be able to get by with a pro forma expression of sympathy and regret that things didn't go as you intended. Schedule a low-key press release for Friday afternoon when all of the media people and their readers are looking forward to the weekend and have tuned out hard news.
However, if the public is upset, this is when you really show your mettle as a song-and-dance man. You put on your best game face, and appear as emotionally-upset and concerned as possible that such an outrage could happen to your friends, neighbors and fellow Americans on your watch. Whatever you need to do to sell the con, you do. To add a flavor of authenticity to the proceedings, you throw a few subordinates under the bus. In Obama's case, that meant relieving IRS acting director Steven Miller. Of course, you make no mention of the fact that Miller was a temporary appointment, and slated to leave the post shortly anyway. Nor do you mention that the IRS attacks on the Tea Party did not originate with the acting director's office, but perhaps with your own. You appear genuinely upset, but of course not for the reasons you claim. You are angry that your subordinates "screwed the pooch" and now it is up to you to clean up the mess. Last but not least, you do not mention that those same "friends" about whom you expressed such apparently genuine concern are the very people you tried to have destroyed a short time before.
This, then, is the Potomac Two-Step - the means by which dishonest and ruthless political leaders spin their way out of being the bad guy and into being the good guy. Giving the devil his due, Obama is quite skilled at this little song-and-dance routine, being the gifted con artist and grifter that he is. The fact that the whole process is blatantly dishonest and about as venal as Washington politics gets, matters not. What matters is whether or not the public buys your act.
Like the fictional street-smart lawyer Billy Flynn, Obama is working as hard as he can to sell the con. The trouble for him is that all of the razzle dazzle and flash – the beads, feathers, and sequins and all the rest that so used to mesmerize his audience – the American public – are now wearing thin. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me. The public may have been gullible before, but finally they seem increasingly skeptical of Obama's explanations and excuses. The magic, so-called, is wearing off.
It is ironic for a man whose entire political career has been based upon the artful exploitation of spin, illusion and dazzle-dazzle, but the only course left for Obama is to try, for a change, to tell the truth. He has tried every rationalization, half-truth, prevarication and falsehood in the book – and none of them work anymore. This writer is not in the business of supplying political advice to his ideological opponents, but if he was – he would remind the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue of that old southern folk expression that says, "Shame the devil and tell the truth!" So, what about it, Mr. Obama?