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Own The Narrative

June 20, 2012

Keeping up with my post from the other day, I find it so interesting that some secrets are so easy to keep when others are so hard to do so.

If you’ve been following the Fast and Furious hearings in Congress — or any of the excellent reporting going on by the limited number of media that seem really interested in the fact that the US government freely sent guns across the border to Mexican drug runners who killed at least one US agent and many Mexican nationals — then you know it’s “Contempt Day” in congress.  The house committee driving the hearings is set to vote on contempt charges for Attorney General Eric Holder because the DOJ has not been all that forthcoming with documents related to the case.

Well, now the DOJ has had the White House invoke executive privelege on the documents in question, as far as I can tell on all the ones that they haven’t yet released.  So the team that has trouble keeping secrets around national security issues suddenly seems to be very tight-lipped about risks to national security in another area.  Erika Johnson notes:

Executive privilege is not a common tactic — the president’s authority can still be overturned (don’t you just love checks and balances?), but this could mean a showdown between our several branches of government. Doesn’t exactly do much to bolster the White House’s story that ‘this isn’t a cover-up’ and ‘the higher-ups were uninvolved in this operation,’ does it?

My guess is that the DOJ hasn’t truly vetted most of these documents, but that a cursory glance led them to believe that release to a hungy right-leaning  environment would bring to light an undercurrent of incompetence that would go up waaaay too high in the organization for an election year.  The most damaging stuff would probably be along the lines of confirmation that the White House itself knew of the operation and implications, and also that many in the administration were viewing the operation as a way to tighten gun laws.  So… nomal SOP for an administrative agenda backed by career staffers.

In strategy, we sometimes talk about the need to “own the story” when a topic comes up.  This means that your message is the one that everyone thinks before they consider the new narrative.  So from the other day, the story is that the administration is tough on terrorism and that the president himself makes the tough calls.  The narrative here seems to be that the administration was doing “just work” and that we don’t need to know the detials.

I contrast that with this story, also over at Hot Air, where the election trail speakers are insisting (in key swing states) that the administration has no agenda in energy policy that would affect said coal-producing/using states.  Well, yea, but in this case, they don’t own the narrative, and it’s pretty obvious that all the heat and light aren’t coming from energy sources that most people consider real energy… so in this case it pretty obviously rings false.  This is the type of thing the administration is trying to own in the other two cases, and the storys are going to get a lot more loud as the elections roll on.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. JWoods permalink
    June 20, 2012 9:46 pm

    I have seen this before, lf you didn’t have the chance to watch the Watergate hearings, then grab your popcorn and settle in because you are in for a long fascinating drama. Watch for the small things to start avalanching, it will be like a flood that is captured behiind a closed door, leaks start showing up everywhere around the periphery of the door.
    Get comfortable kids you are witnessing history. You would think the Pols would learn from history. I guess not.

  2. June 20, 2012 9:49 am

    The narrative should be “why did the white house wait until 7 months after the requested documents to claim executive priviledge?” Just sayin.

    • June 20, 2012 1:05 pm

      More like it’ll be, “Well, we didn’t want to bother you with how successfully we’re defending you, but now that you’re asking we can’t tell you.” I like yours better, though, Amy.

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