Helene Cooper (NYT): Manufactured Wimp-Taunting

In a piece titled, “The Label Factor: Is Obama a Wimp or a Warrior?” Helene Cooper in the New York Times asserts that,

Like every Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, President Obama is battling the perception that he’s a wimp on national security.

Really?  Whose perceptions are those?

First Cooper cites criticism of Obama from Dick Cheney that Obama is a wimp on national security.  It has yet to dawn on Helene Cooper and the NYT that Dick Cheney spent the last decade from hell demonstrating that he is crazier than a shithouse rat on national security.  Never mind Cheney’s personal cowardice evidenced by his five deferments and paranoid delusions requiring a man-safe in his office and HazMat suits in the trunk of his car.  The man started wars on falsified evidence (stove-piped to the American public by the New York Times) and killed well over a million innocent people, torturing god knows how many more, and generally shattering cradles of civilization based on some depraved ideology.  That’s not being tough on national security, that’s balls-to-the-wall crazy.  Sociopathic.  Since when does mental illness represent a legitimate basis for forming perceptions on national security?

Also never mind that Cheney might have ulterior motives for goading Obama into replicating, and hence vindicating Cheney’s criminal behavior.  

Perhaps sensing that citing the criminally insane on national security issues may not be the most convincing argument available, Cooper goes on to cite “barbs” of criticism from someone less violently demented than Dick Cheney.

It’s not just coming from Republicans (for example, Dick Cheney’s accusation that Mr. Obama is trying to pretend that the country isn’t at war). Now barbs are coming from the center too.

However, if you read the article she cites from Leslie Gelb, you will quickly understand that Gelb is not criticizing Obama on national security.  In fact, Gelb warns Obama against losing policy ground to just the kind of “right-wing bizzarros” embodied by Dick Cheney, yet here is the quote she selects:

“He puts far too much store on being the smartest guy in the room,” Mr. Gelb wrote. “He’d do well to remember that Jimmy Carter also rang all the I.Q. bells.”

Although Cooper cherry picks Gelb’s quote, and falsely places it in her fabricated context of Obama’s perceived toughness in terms of national security, Gelb is rather referring to Obama getting tough mainly on domestic obstructionists, particularly with respect to the economy.  Here’s the quote in Gelb’s fuller context:

He[Obama]’s been pummeled hard all along the political spectrum. He’s in trouble. If he doesn’t overhaul himself and his administration quickly, right-wing bizarros will control Congress in 2011 and he’ll be looking for another job in 2013. He’ll end up a one-termer like Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. Obama can’t afford to wait to make a mid-course correction a year from now. He’s got to make a quarter-course correction in the next months. He needs to prioritize and focus his energies on the economy, teach his opponents to fear him, and change some top personnel. Above all, he’s got to modify his own ways. He puts far too much store on being the smartest guy in the room and not enough on experience. He’d do well to remember that Jimmy Carter also rang all the IQ bells.

It is far from accidental that Helene Cooper juxtaposes her cherry-picked quote into her false context of national security, because Gelb tells us directly in no uncertain terms that he is talking about “the economy, the economy, the economy.”  Helene Cooper, it’s about the economy, stupid.

First and foremost, the president must have an overriding theme to discipline himself and focus Americans and the world. He’s been acting as if there are dozens of major issues, when there is only one-the economy, the economy, and the economy. Every other “major” issue has to be judged by how it affects the economy. Our economy is at the heart of our military and diplomatic power, and of our democracy, as Obama said at West Point-but he doesn’t say enough or nor do enough on a day-to-day basis,

Once more:  Helene Cooper, it’s about the economy, stupid.  The reason we squandered blood and fortune in the Middle East is because we failed to heed Carter’s prescient warning decades ago when we stood a much better chance of adapting to issues of carrying capacity.  We failed, and subsequently unleashed our inner shithouse rats on humanity.  

Needless to say, this twisting of plain, emphatic meaning–the economy, the economy, the economy— into a partisan, war-mongering agenda is an act we’ve seen all too often.  And with Helene Cooper as your wimp-taunting guide in this familiar house of horrors, you can bet she covers all the main attractions:  

And, speaking of Iran, this is the year when Mr. Obama must go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde with that country, the experts say.

Experts say.  Real wimps and foreign policy creampuffs are “experts” who advocate war anonymously.  By the way, are NYT journalists remotely schooled in literature anymore?  Here’s a quick synopsis of Jeckyll and Hyde, FYI:  

Dr. Jekyll faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that changes him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde.

Further adventures in “working the Dark Side, if you will.”  You can guess who Cooper’s anonymous expert might be.

Then there is Cooper’s appeal to “generally accepted knowledge,” that requires no citations whatsoever, and the reprehensible, if implicit conflation of completely legitimate nuclear technology with weaponization:

Nobody thinks there’s much chance that the Iranian government will suddenly suspend its enrichment of uranium, as Mr. Obama would like.

This is just more standard right-wing innuendo and lies.

A general who was once in charge of Israel’s nuclear weapons has claimed that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capability”.

Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, 75, a war hero and pillar of the defence establishment, believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons


Eilam, who is thought to be updated by former colleagues on developments in Iran, calls his country’s official view hysterical. “The intelligence community are spreading frightening voices about Iran,” he said.

He suggested that the “defence establishment is sending out false alarms in order to grab a bigger budget” while some politicians have used Iran to divert attention away from problems at home.

“Those who say that Iran will obtain a bomb within a year’s time, on what basis did they say so?” he asked. “Where is the evidence?”

Battling right-wing lies promulgated by Helene Cooper and the NYT is truly tedious.  Even in the face of economic calamity, in large part due to unnecessary militarism, they remain unrepentant and unrestrained liars.

On foreign policy, Gelb is NOT advocating greater military power, but smarter, cheaper, and more restrained uses of conventional military power.  We can’t afford the current military budget, he says.  We can’t afford these military quagmires.  We have “shock and awed” our way into economic ruin.  

Again, Gelb’s focus on Obama’s “toughness” is primarily related to the economy and herding the domestic cats.

Obviously, Obama inherited an almost unprecedented mess, and obviously he has done some good things. But fair or not, the mess is all his now, and in these brutal and crucial times, he can’t be just a good president. He’s got to be an exceptional president with an iron focus on the economy, an iron-fisted hand to keep most marching in that right direction, and he must become the leader of a team that knows what buttons to push and how to succeed.

Gelb’s message stands in stark contrast to the war-mongering, psychopathic, Mr. Hyde routine advocated by Helene Cooper and the NYT, but if you juxtapose a cherry-picked comment taken out of context with Dick Cheney’s crackpot lunacies, sprinkle in anonymous experts and “general knowledge,” then throw in your own biased impressions, then you, too, can write for the NYT.

This type of manufactured hysteria and “wimp-taunting” is all part of a pattern for the NYT, isn’t it?


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  1. surprisingly illiterate considering the paper’s reputation as being a paper of record.

  2. …. The newspaper that launched a thousand blips.  

    Maybe she could call Maureen Dowd and they could schedule group therapy for their Post Traumatic Shopping Disorders.  

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