Dis­hon­est or dis­com­bob­u­lated? With Obama, take your pick

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY JOSEPH CURL

Is Pres­i­dent Obama a patho­log­i­cal liar, or just in­cred­i­bly stupid? Those are the only two choices. Ei­ther Mr. Obama re­peat­edly says things he knows are false, or he is com­pletely un­able to com­pre­hend in­for­ma­tion to dis­cern the truth. There is no third op­tion.

Take his state­ment dur­ing the de­bate over the Af­ford­able Care Act. He trav­eled the coun­try for nearly a year, say­ing over and over and over, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” But that turned out to be com­pletely false.

In fact, Poli­ti­Fact, a Pulitzer Prize-win­ning, in­de­pen­dent fact-check­ing watch­dog, deemed the cam­paign catch phrase its “Lie of the Year” for 2013.

Now, here’s the thing: Ei­ther the pres­i­dent de­cided that he needed to lie — re­peat­edly — to get Oba­macare through Congress, or he had no idea that the new law would, by def­i­ni­tion, ren­der mil­lions of health care poli­cies in­suf­fi­cient, thus end­ing them.

The lat­ter op­tion is the in­ter­est­ing one. Could the pres­i­dent, the high­est elected of­fi­cial in the land, re­ally not know what was in the bill he was push­ing Congress to pass? Did no one ever tell him, “Uh, sir, it says right there on page 687 that all health care plans that fail to meet the new stan­dards will be discontinued”?

But that was three years ago. Let’s skip ahead to now.

The pres­i­dent sends his White House spokesman out to say he has “full con­fi­dence” in the di­rec­tor of the Se­cret Ser­vice, even though the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tion squad let an armed in­truder run through the White House and a gun-pack­ing felon stand right next the pres­i­dent in an el­e­va­tor. Seven hours later, she is gone, fired. Another ex­am­ple: Mr. Obama says a group of ter­ror­ist stomp­ing across Iraq and Syria, killing chil­dren, rap­ing women, slaugh­ter­ing “in­fi­dels,” is noth­ing but a bunch of wannabes, lit­tle more than a “JV” team try­ing to play above their heads. Weeks later, the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists are be­head­ing Americans and threat­en­ing to at­tack the United States, prompt­ing a world­wide scram­ble to con­tain the threat.

Then this month, the pres­i­dent says the chances of Ebola mak­ing its way from Africa to Amer­ica are “ex­tremely low.”

“We’ve been tak­ing the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions, in­clud­ing work­ing with coun­tries in West Africa to in­crease screen­ing at air­ports so that some­one with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the un­likely event that some­one with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new mea­sures so that we’re pre­pared here at home,” he said Sept. 16.

Weeks later, a man flies into Dal­las from Liberia. In the hos­pi­tal, doc­tors mis­di­ag­nose him and, giv­ing him an­tibi­otics, send him home. Days later, the man tests pos­i­tive for Ebola. And less than a week after that, hun­dreds are quar­an­tined.

Were all those lies? Did the pres­i­dent know he was about to fire his Se­cret Ser­vice di­rec­tor, that the Is­lamic State was a ma­jor threat, that Ebola would land in Amer­ica within weeks, and lie? Or did he re­ally have no clue — no clue how bad his Se­cret Ser­vice di­rec­tor was, no clue how dan­ger­ous Is­lamic State was, no clue how vi­ral Ebola would be?

Again, the fas­ci­nat­ing sce­nario is the lat­ter one: He just didn’t know. Mr. Obama went to Har­vard (and Har­vard grads will al­ways let you know they went to Har­vard). But the pres­i­dent of­ten acts like a com­mu­nity col­lege dropout, seems not to know what is so clearly com­ing down the pike: that the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tion head has got to be fired, that Is­lamic State is no “JV” club, that Ebola is a true pan­demic threat.

When can­di­date Obama was run­ning for pres­i­dent in 2007, crit­ics com­plained that he didn’t have any real-life ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning ... well, any­thing. Not a state, not a ma­jor company, not even a small business. His cre­den­tials for Amer­ica’s top job were slim: col­lege pro­fes­sor, com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer, state leg­is­la­tor, three years in the U.S. Se­nate.

His op­po­nent in 2007, Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, warned that he sim­ply wouldn’t know what to do when that 3 a.m. emer­gency phone call came in, de­mand­ing that he make the right decision right away. And it turns out she was ab­so­lutely right.

But it’s all much worse. On for­eign pol­icy, Mr. Obama cam­paigned that he would talk with the world’s worst despots, boasted about a “re­set” with Rus­sia, gave speeches with soar­ing rhetoric about how the world would be a bet­ter place if Amer­ica took a back seat, let oth­ers be in charge for a while.

Were those lies or just stu­pid­ity? Who knows. But here’s what we know. Six years later, Iran is unchecked, Rus­sia is again in­vad­ing coun­tries and seiz­ing ter­ri­tory, the Mid­dle East is ex­plod­ing, north­ern Africa is in tur­moil, and the United States is beg­ging the United Na­tions to take over.

So it’s not at all un­rea­son­able to won­der whether the pres­i­dent is a patho­log­i­cal liar, or just truly in­com­pe­tent. All signs point to in­com­pe­tence. Now don’t you wish he was just a liar?

Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and pol­i­tics for a decade for The Wash­ing­ton Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@ gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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