Did you see State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf’s appearance on Megyn Kelly’s show last night?
If you haven’t, here it is. But be warned, it’s one of the more frustrating interviews you’ll watch.
Even Kelly got exasperated with Harf a couple of times, exclaiming “Oh, Marie!” when Harf offered up another robotic answer to another real, this-or-that factual question.
Kelly says “Oh, Marie!” early on in the interview when Harf simply refuses to recognize the facts presented to her. Kelly points out that in January, President Obama described ISIS as a “jayvee” terrorist group. Now that group is sweeping across Iraq and looks destined to destroy that country and replace it with the most radical Islamist government on earth — a caliphate. The ramifications of this are staggering. Iraq has 10% of the world’s oil. If it falls, America is pushed further out of the Middle East. Iran’s power rises. Iraq may become the mullahs’ client state. All of our allies will question America’s word, as Poland already is. The stakes in Iraq are incredibly high.
Was the president downplaying the ISIS threat in January, Kelly asked, or did he misjudge it? It’s a simple question.
But Harf sheds her humanity and resorts to talking points, time after time after time. She does this throughout the conversation. It’s as if she’s an automaton and there is someone off screen pushing buttons to control her responses. Button A does this, Button B does that, Button C will move the conversation over here, and somewhere there’s a self-destruct button if none of the other responses work. Harf’s operator was probably tempted to push that one a couple of times.
To Kelly’s simple question — Did Obama underestimate the ISIS threat? — Harf replied “Not at all. Look, this is a threat we’ve been talking about to the Iraqis and other partners in the region about for months.”
Anybody can talk about anything. It’s what they say that matters. So, how big a threat? Existential, or merely “jayvee” as Obama himself said in January? That’s important. It’s the point of the question.
“We talked about it just last November, before those comments you mentioned, with Prime Minister Maliki when he was here.”
It was after that, in January, that Obama referred to ISIS as “jayvee.” Kelly points this out.
“Well, it’s a group that’s changing,” Harf replies. “The terrorist threat changes, quite frankly, on a week by week and month by month basis.”
As if anyone didn’t know that.
That line got the first “Oh, Marine, come on!” from Kelly. The question is, when the Obama administration met with Maliki, what was said? Was ISIS considered a serious threat, or was it considered “jayvee”?
Watch the whole interview. The discussion of whether Obama considered ISIS a threat goes on for several minutes, with Harf claiming that “We’ve been very clear” about the threat “for months.”
It’s a mix of Button A, Button B, Button C.
The Obama administration has not been clear about the threat. That was the point of Kelly’s questioning. Obama was handed a stable Iraq in 2009. He continued to tout its stability in 2012. He described ISIS as “jayvee” in 2014.
There’s a report out today that the Kurds offered to help the US fight ISIS months ago, before it had taken over a dozen Iraqi cities, but as its threat was becoming ever clearer. The Obama administration never even responded. Too bad that report wasn’t available to Megyn Kelly last night. It would have been entertaining to see which button got pushed to respond to that.
From “jayvee or varsity,” Kelly moves on to Obama’s claim that it was the Iraqi government’s decision not to allow any residual American troops to stay in country to help deal with rising threats. Obama made that claim directly last Thursday. “That wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government,” Obama told a room full of reporters who probably knew the truth at the time.
It contradicts the claim he made during the presidential debates. At that time, he took full credit for getting US troops out of Iraq. He said that he did not want a status of forces agreement with Iraq. Leaving troops in Iraq would “tie us down,” Obama told Mitt Romney in 2012, so he opposed it.
Obviously, both cannot be true. Unless you’re Marie Harf and you’re paid to defend Obama.
Harf answers: “Well, we’ve been very clear that we were not going to leave any troops there without the legal protections that I think most Americans would agree they need to have overseas. So it is true that the Iraqi government made very clear they did not want our folks there in 2011. But, you know, there’s gonna be a lot of time to look at the history of Iraq, both when we got in and what happened throughout the years there.” And so forth.
“But Marie,” an exasperated Kelly points out, “The generals have come on this show repeatedly and said that, actually, many of the Iraqis were begging for us to stay. And our own generals went to President Obama and begged him to keep about 17,000 troops on the ground in Iraq.” He turned that down, he turned 10,000 down, he turned 3,000 down.
Now we’re sending 300, and on a handshake immunity deal. A token force without even a piece of paper between them and sharia.
All Kelly gets from Harf is Button A, Button C, etc.
Marie Harf is 33 years old, making her a millennial. She’s a career political operative.
Marie Harf did not come to the State Department with any level of experience or expertise in foreign affairs. She came to the State Department from the Obama campaign. Among her jobs there was debate prep. It’s likely that she fed Obama the line to brag about unilaterally removing all of the troops from Iraq, because the polls said that that was a popular decision at the time. It’s just as likely that she’s among the people who are now feeding him the line to blame it on the Iraqi government, because that decision to remove the troops looks unwise.
Harf embodies so much that is wrong with this administration, and with today’s Democrats. Behind the hashtags and the cute nerd glasses and the glossy blond hair there is no soul. There is only calculation, formulated responses, a demographic, an age group, a gender. She ticks all the boxes that this administration, this president, really cares about. He isn’t talented enough to recognize talent himself. In Harf he has a mediocre loyalist acting as a human shield for a president who was never prepared for the job. Button A. Button B. Button C. Never a single, solitary, honest and informed word about anything.