Once again the evil winds of Fox News are blowing across the land and threatening to whip up a Perfect Storm composed of nothing but disinformation and unfounded fears. As part of their all-to-predictable criticism of President Obama’s efforts to prevent carnage in Libya and to support democratic reformers, the Fox brigades have unleashed a torrent of lies and irrational arguments that amount to siding with Qaddafi against American interests.
As usual, Glenn Beck is leading the charge with his typically factless assault and incitement to panic. The target this time is Samantha Power, the Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights for the National Security Council. Just as he did with Van Jones last year, Beck has begun a barrage of invective aimed at slandering Power. Day after day he repeatedly denounces her while playing a context-deprived video in an endless loop.
The thrust of Beck’s squabbling is his contention that Power is the source of the administration’s policy in Libya. In his pseudo-professorial style Beck mis-educates his gullible viewers as to the roots of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) initiative endorsed by the United Nations. R2P sprung from the post-WWII determination that the community of nations are morally obligated to act in opposition to genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.
In short, Beck falsely asserts that the UN got the idea from George Soros who got it from Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell.” The only flaw in that theory is that Power’s book (which, by the way, won the Pulitzer Prize) came out the year following the publication of a UN commissioned report on the subject, so it could not possibly have been the inspiration for it. And the UN’s report was based on the 1948 “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” when Soros was a poor, eighteen year old Holocaust refugee and student in London, and well before Power was even born. Also notable is the fact that R2P was adopted when John Bolton was the ambassador to the UN and both Israel and the Bush administration supported it. These facts, however, don’t prevent Beck from inventing a conspiracy that defies the linear confines of time.
The video Beck has on auto-replay shows an excerpt of Power discussing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and suggesting that a “mammoth protection force” may be required. Beck alleges that she is promoting this protection on behalf of the Palestinians against the Israelis, and he extends that dimwitted analysis to imply that Power, Soros, and Obama have designs on attacking Israel under the provisions of R2P. In fact, a full playing of the video reveals that Power was not advancing her own solution to the ongoing Middle East hostilities. She was responding to a question that posed a hypothetical scenario wherein one side or the other was engaging in genocide. Her answer proposed a protection force that would be neutral, along the lines of a conventional UN peacekeeping mission.
The reality could not be further from Beck’s gyroscopic spinning of an imagined international military assault on Israel. Beck couples these allegations with a reference to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator, Cass Sunstein, whom Beck calls “the most dangerous man in America.” Sunstein is Power’s husband. Consequently, Beck now calls her “the most dangerous woman in America.”
The problem that Beck’s vile disinformation campaign presents, other than advancing the progress of stupidity, is that the Obama administration has been notoriously hypersensitive when it comes to criticism, especially from Fox News. In addition to their knee-jerk reaction to Beck’s demonization of Van Jones, the White House also jettisoned Yosi Sergant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Shirley Sherrod from the Department of Agriculture, over phony controversies promoted by Fox and other right-wing media.
This Foxophobia manifests itself in dangerously careless decision making that not only unfairly punishes staffers who did nothing wrong, it encourages the Becks of the world to persist with their character assassination crusades.
In this regard it is imperative that Obama not buckle under to the smears that Samantha Power is now suffering. The President needs to demonstrate that he has the fortitude to ignore Beck and Fox and the rest of the conservative hate machine that is itching to claim another scalp. Power is a brilliant, dedicated, and effective public servant and deserves the support of the President. She must not become another casualty in the war on competent White House advisors (which is really just a war on the White House by proxy).
My message to Obama is this: You cannot placate your foes by giving in to them. They feed off of that sort of weakness and become even more voracious. By denying them their little victories you retain trusted advisors, enhance your reputation, and starve the beast that stalks you. So, Mr. President, don’t make the same mistakes you made with Van Jones and the others. Stand by Power. Scoff at Beck. And exhibit some of the backbone that your position imparts onto you.