timely quote

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Secrets and Leaks

From New York Times and FoxNews

The first private meeting betweek Obama and Bush seemed to go well, except for the NYT reporting the contents of the private meeting.

According to the NYT, Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said.

So pretty much, the Obama camp goes public with just enough detail to make it look like Bush is only worried about his legacy, and then Representative Rahm Emanuel, indicated on Sunday that no such deal linking auto-industry aid and a stimulus package with trade pacts was in the cards. “You don’t link those essential needs to some other trade deal,” Mr. Emanuel said on ABC’s “This Week.”

So the Obama "people" are telling the NYT details about a private meeting between the sitting and incoming president.

The outgoing and incoming presidents met at the White House in private, without staff.

So where did Obama's people get the information to leak to the NYT? According to FoxNews, Senior aides to both men said the two issues were part of a long discussion about automakers and the ability of the trade deal to help not only the economy but also a key ally.

If you ask me, Obama is characterizing the conversation the way he'd like it to have gone. "Mr President, I'd like to talk about helping GM. You know, Deutsche Bank has downgraded GM and projects that the company can't continue operations past the end of the year without assistance."

"Well, Barry, let me tell you what. Your boys over there in congress have been beating me up about this Columbia free trade thing. If you think you can get that done, then we can talk about GM."

Democrats close to both Mr. Obama’s transition team and to Congressional leaders seemed willing to call Mr. Bush’s bluff, calculating that he would not want to gamble that G.M. — an iconic, century-old American corporation with business tentacles in every state — would fail on his watch and add to the negative notes of his legacy.

The language they are using is framing the debate. Rahm Emanuel says that the auto industry bailout is an "essential need" and establishing free trade with our ally Columbia is "some other trade deal." And the President was "irked." We can't let them set the rules like this.

Obama had asked Bush to help the sagging auto industry during their private meeting in the White House, senior aides to both men said. Bush stressed the need to work with Colombia, but said efforts to make it sound like a horse trade were unfair and inaccurate, an aide told FOX News.

A senior administration official suggested that Obama be careful to keep his counsel and perhaps is unfamiliar with the long-held tradition of keeping confidential conversations between presidents.

Asked if the leak affected what appears to be a very smooth transition so far, the senior Bush aide said, "It won't affect what we have to do ... but it was disappointing. I think the Obama folks will be backing off this pretty soon."

Podesta did just that later in the day, saying that the press "mis-reported" the conversation. "While the topic of Colombia came up ... there was no quid pro quo in the conversation," Podesta said. "The president didn't try to link Colombia to the question of an economic recovery package going forward. They talked about both of them."

Sounds like they reported it as it happened. Obama and Bush had a private conversation, then Obama spoke about it with his people. Emanuel came out to bash Bush about trying to bargain bailing out another major industry for free trade agreements. Then they backed off after they got called on it.

We can't stay on the defensive like this. We had eight years of being on the defensive, holding to the "new tone." We can't be shrill or offensive, but if something like this comes out, we can't let it go. We have to speak up. Nietzsche said, "Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one."


Ex-Dissident said...

I imagine Columbians took this leak to mean, Obama hearts Chavez. Just imagine when they start "leaking" sensitive information about Israel, and Malley will frame the Israeli positions as he had masterfully done in the past.

Welcome to the ministry of propaganda.

Ex-Dissident said...

Folly, is there anything done or planned by the president-elect that does not make one sick?

folly said...

My problem with it is that we're just going to sit and say "I guess he didn't know," or "it's just bad advice."

I think he absolutely knew that the leaks would be considered inappropriate, and he did it anyway. The purpose was to send the message that the President would only sign an automaker bailout if the free trade agreement was done.

So now, the Democrats in congress are pushing ahead with the bailout, and if Bush fights against it, it must be because there was a deal, and he really did try to "link those essential needs to some other trade deal."

Voila, Bush is the bad guy and Obama is just trying to do what's right. It's not his fault of the Republicans are standing in his way.