Sunday, November 3, 2013

"I Am Not a Killer," He Declared

A friend gave me the link to this HuffPost story, about a new book which claims that President Obama bragged to campaign staffers in 2012 that he's "really good at killing people."

It's always hard to know what to make of stories like this.  You know that a President will deny the report, preferably via his flunkies, whether it's true or not, and verification is difficult or impossible since the statements weren't made in front of cameras.  An official denial is tantamount to confirmation where the government, big business, big religion, or the military are concerned.  And Obama has a record of public joking about killing people, even before he began the chest-thumping over having killed Bin Laden.  So this report isn't at all implausible.

But it's still funny.  My first reaction was that Obama's not nearly as good at killing people as his predecessors: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each have hundreds of thousands of notches on their gunstocks.  Obama prefers retail rather than wholesale slaughter, so perhaps he's handicapped himself, but he has a long way to go before he catches up with his great predecessors, and he's already well into his second term.

The article quotes Obama's defense of his drone program:
"Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes," Obama said.
This is true enough, but it also backfires.  The death toll among Muslims from America's violence in the Middle East dwarfs the number of "terrorists" the US has killed, and also the number of people, Muslim or otherwise, killed by "terrorists" during the same period.  The US government is still, as Martin Luther King Jr. charged forty-five years ago, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

So far, according to the article, only "senior Obama senior advisor" Dan Pfeiffer has responded to the book, but without addressing Obama's alleged boast.  That's really okay, since there are more important things about the man than an offhand jape, however repellent, which may or may not have been uttered to staff.