In his memoir Fear No Evil, Jewish Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky recounts the mind games the KGB played with him as they tried to entrap him in “confessions” of treason. What allowed Sharansky to survive was his ability to anticipate their moves in a game that began with transparent lies from his government, ones he recognized from kindergarten.
This month, as evidenced by the release of a photo supposedly showing the president engaged in skeet-shooting, we have similar mind games being played by the Obama administration and with all the sophistication of junior high school intrigues.
They seemed to be following orders, specifically a taunting tweet from David Plouffe on Saturday, February 2: “Attn skeet birthers. Make our day — Let the photoshop conspiracies begin!” A few minutes later, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, “For all the skeeters: POTUS shoots clay target on the range at Camp David.”
Both tweets linked to the official photo accompanied by the warning: ”This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”
Amazingly, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Black at the Washington Post excused such preemptive pettiness as a necessity in today’s age of social media and claimed: “While Obama and his inner circle pride themselves on their lack of drama and their tendency not to overreact to the political winds that buffet Washington … they have repeatedly shown a keen awareness of and concern for issues that would have likely been considered beneath most past administrations.”
But both ringmasters, Plouffe and Pfeiffer, were off the mark in conjuring up reactions from “right-wingers.” Most of the comments did not question whether the photo was a fake. Rather, experienced skeet-shooters questioned Obama’s claim in the New Republic about doing this “all the time.” They critiqued the positioning of the shotgun, the level aim, and compared his amateurish stance to that when he threw out the first pitch at the World Series dressed in “mom jeans.” Obama did not take up Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s challenge to a skeet shoot.