Saturday, June 29, 2019

Miscellaneous Memories From The Obama Administration

During the Obama administration I became extremely concerned that the government, in its communication effort, was substituting technical prowess (knowing how to send a good tweet) for substantive and strategic prowess (saying the right things accurately). 

I surmised that this was due to the communication skill exhibited by the Obama team; that they just didn't want feds in the way; and I did not think of this as especially nefarious, although I had my suspicions due to Fast & Furious, Ambassador Stevens, etc. 

I remember expressing my suspicions and being told that all administrations are essentially the same, they want to do what they want to do, and Obama is no different, and I tried to live with that but felt very uneasy. 

An acquaintance used to message me over Facebook. She was afraid to speak out loud her grave concerns.  We were all afraid. It wasn't like in the Trump years. If you opposed Obama, you were basically considered an awful, racist person. 

For me it wasn't so much about him, although I used to read this blog called "The Ulsterman Report," and it gave me the shudders. 

It was more like a sense that something was very wrong. I had a colleague who called it "the pod people," like "the pod people" are coming into town and you are interacting with individuals who *seem* like humans but are really sort of possessed. 

I thought my friend was a bit dramatic and extreme but she turned out to be right about the things she said. Example - sexual harassment and domestic abuse practiced by the most senior people, and they and their buddies walked off scot-free. 

Friend said that the people in power actually want to hire bad people so they can control them. She also said that the real insider threat always looks like you, not the "bogeyman" they show you on TV; and they show up on time and act professional and normal in every way, so they can do their dirty deeds unsuspected. 

Unfortunately every industry and administration has its bad people no matter who is in charge and that is a totally separate matter; it's not a "deep state" thing; it's an "abuse of power" thing and some just do. 

I remember when I worked at USAID under Obama, and the civil servants I worked for were very much in favor of the wonderful things we were doing, but had to ensure fiscal control and accountability. 

This was a challenge because people would go off to the mission in the field -- all they wanted to do was help people -- and it would be hard to track what they were doing. 

This, to me, again is normal government stuff, it is not nefarious but part of being in a helping profession. The problem came about with Obama, that the agency felt extraordinarily politicized - it did not feel like there was any distinction between the civil service & him. 

I was not a political type but this made me really uncomfortable. 

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. Public domain.