Stay­ing cool and cool­ing off the vot­ers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Thomas Sow­ell

Con­fi­dence men know that their vic­tim — “the mark” as he has been called — is even­tu­ally go­ing to re­al­ize that he has been cheated. But it makes a big dif­fer­ence whether he re­al­izes it im­me­di­ately, and goes to the po­lice, or re­al­izes it af­ter the con­fi­dence man is long gone.

So part of the con­fi­dence racket is cre­at­ing a pe­riod of un­cer­tainty, dur­ing which the vic­tim is not yet sure of what is hap­pen­ing. This de­lay­ing process has been called “cool­ing out the mark.”

The same prin­ci­ple ap­plies in pol­i­tics. When the ac­cu­sa­tions that led to the im­peach­ment of Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton first sur­faced, he flatly de­nied them all.

Then, as the months passed, the truth came out — but slowly, bit by bit.

One of Clin­ton’s own White House aides later called it “telling the truth slowly.”

By the time the whole truth came out, it was called “old news,” and the clever phrase now was that we should “move on.”

It was a suc­cess­ful “cool­ing out” of the pub­lic, keep­ing them in un­cer­tainty so long that, by the time the whole truth came out, there was no longer the same out­rage as if the truth had sud­denly come out all at once.

With­out the sup­port of an out­raged pub­lic, the im­peach­ment of Pres­i­dent Clin­ton fiz­zled out in the Se­nate.

We are cur­rently see­ing an­other “cool­ing out” process, grow­ing out of the ter­ror­ist at­tack on the Amer­i­can con­sulate in Beng­hazi on Septem­ber 11th this year.

The be­lated re­lease of State Depart­ment e-mails shows that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion knew, while the at­tack on the Amer­i­can con­sulate was still un­der­way, that it was a co­or­di­nated, armed ter­ror­ist at­tack.

They were get­ting re­ports from those inside the con­sulate who were un­der at­tack, as well as sur­veil­lance pic­tures from a cam­era on an Amer­i­can drone over­head.

About an hour be­fore the at­tack, the scene out­side was calm enough for the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador to ac­com­pany a Turk­ish of­fi­cial to the gates of the con­sulate to say good­bye. This could hardly have hap­pened if there were protest­ing mobs there.

Why then did both Pres­i­dent Obama and U.N. Am­bas­sador Su­san Rice keep re­peat­ing the story that this was a spon­ta­neous protest riot against an anti-Is­lamic video in Amer­ica?

The White House knew the facts — but they knew that the vot­ing pub­lic did not.

And it mat­tered hugely whether the facts be­came known to the pub­lic be­fore or af­ter the elec­tion. What the White House needed was a process of “cool­ing out” the vot­ers, keep­ing them dis­tracted or in un­cer­tainty as long as pos­si­ble.

Not only did the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion keep re­peat­ing the false story about an an­tiIs­lamic video be­ing the cause of a riot that turned vi­o­lent, the man who pro­duced that video was tracked down and ar­rested, cre­at­ing a me­dia dis­trac­tion.

All this kept the video story front and cen­ter, with the ac­tions and in­ac­tions of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion kept in the back­ground.

The White House had to know that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the truth would come out.

But time was what mat­tered, with an elec­tion close at hand.

The longer they could stretch out the pe­riod of dis­trac­tion and un­cer­tainty — “cool­ing out” the vot­ers — the bet­ter. Once the con­fi­dence man in the White House was re­elected, it would be po­lit­i­cally ir­rel­e­vant what facts came out.

As the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s video story be­gan to slowly un­ravel, their ear­lier mis­state­ments were blamed on “the fog of war” that ini­tially ob­scures many events.

But there was no such “fog of war” in this case.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion knew what was hap­pen­ing while it was hap­pen­ing.

They didn’t know all the de­tails — and we may never know all the de­tails — but they knew enough to know that this was no protest demon­stra­tion that got out of hand.

From the time it took of­fice, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to sup­press the very con­cept of a “war on ter­ror” or the ter­ror­ists’ war on us.

The painful farce of call­ing the Fort Hood mur­ders “work­place vi­o­lence,” in­stead of a ter­ror­ist at­tack in our midst, shows how far the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would go to down­play the dan­gers of Is­lamic ex­trem­ist ter­ror­ism.

The killing of Osama bin Laden fed the pre­tense that the ter­ror­ism threat had been beaten.

But the ter­ror­ists’ at­tack in Libya ex­posed that fraud — and re­quired an­other fraud to try to “cool out” the vot­ers un­til af­ter elec­tion day. Thomas Sow­ell is a se­nior fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion, Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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