It is hard to be a voter in America; the media establishment (all of it) long ago gave up reporting in favor of “story-telling”. One major news organization, Fox News, has become the communications arm of a virulent strain of right-wing ideology, while its competitors have destroyed themselves trying to destroy Fox. In today’s world, political information is being generated by blogs like The Wonkblog, aggregated by sites like Reddit, and disseminated through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
There are good sources of information on the web, and original source material has never been easier to find, but it is the easy sources of information that are pervasive. Postings on Facebook, much like chain emails, are images and words written and/or shared by friends and family. They carry a tremendous weight. Where 40 years ago Americans may have trusted Walter Cronkite implicitly, there are today no voices we trust more than the people closest to us; even when those people are unwilling or unable to verify what it is they are sharing.
This picture is the result, and neatly sums up the “wisdom” floating around the net…spread from friend to friend, family member to family member. The picture is built around four points that are indeed factual; President Obama did not attend ceremonies at the D-Day Memorial in France in 2010, 2011, or 2012, and he did speak at a series of fundraisers in San Fransisco on June 6, 2012. But the libel, and it is a libel, occurs because of the lies that form the context of this picture.
Without the context, that President Obama is an essentially different person, that he has acted in a manner that seperates him from all of the other Commanders in Chief, that he doesn’t care enough about our troops to show his respect, this photo has no merit.
First and foremost, it should be noted that the most egregious error in this posting regards the date of D-Day. The individuals who produced this picture, a picture designed to highlight the insensitivity to history and our veterans allegedly held by President Obama, don’t appear to be sensitive to the history themselves. D-Day (at least the one that President Obama is supposedly slighting by failing to go to France, occurred on June 6, 1944…not 1945. It isn’t immediately obvious how any patriotic American with a profound respect and interest in our shared military history could miss so obvious a fact.
Next, the context of this picture is completely fabricated. In 1984, President Reagan became the first American president to visit the site, and that was the occasion of his only visit. His successor, George H.W. Bush. never visited the D-Day Memorial, while Bush’s son W. visited but twice. President Clinton attended once, on the 50th Anniversary of the invasion in 1994. And President Obama, has our current president attended the ceremony? Yes, he has. On the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, President Obama was in Normandy to pay his respects.
So, in complete opposition to the opening statement of the fraudulent picture above, the reality of the D-Day Memorial and American presidents is this:
In all of the years since D-Day 1944, four U.S. presidents have attended the ceremonies a total of 6 times, and Barack Obama was one.
It would be an interesting campaign indeed, were Campaign 2012 played out in the battleground of facts. But these slurs, these lies, this repeated breaking of the commandment against bearing false witness, have become politics du jour in our Rovian Democracy. More is the pity.
The Rational Middle is listening…