Some politicians are better at the art than Copperfield. A war or threat of war instigated by a president as a diversionary policy or diversionary war is sometime intended to divert attention from his domestic policies. Almost all modern era presidents have been accused of using the tactic. Empirical evidence is hard to obtain, however.
Fabricated international conflicts have occasionally been used to solicit support for the administration and divert attention from a domestic dilemma. It has been alleged to have been used to give presidents opportunity to act in a way that otherwise would not have been tolerated. This has been called the “Rally ‘round the flag” syndrome.
Leading the nation into military conflict has on occasion resulted in an increase in popularity for that president.
Not to imply that 9/11 was anything other than a heinous realistic terrorist attack, nevertheless President Bush’s response saw his approval rating soar to 80 percent.
During the late 1960s, there were major social disturbances and domestic conflicts. In retrospect it was claimed President Lyndon Johnson used a disputed attack on a warship in the Gulf of Tonkin to enter the conflict between North and South Korea. He called entering the engagement an act of “containment.” His action did not bring about homeland unity or garner him support. It backfired and led to him not running again for office.
Our present president has proven to be a skilled tactician regarding diversions. The use of an anti-Muslim film to divert attention from the real issue in Benghazi is an example.
Could it be that a classic example of presidential diversion is now at play? At a time when Congress needs to be giving undivided attention to the Affordable Care Act there is suddenly a potential war brewing. The old ploy of using an international issue to divert attention from a domestic crisis would fit the pattern. After all, it has been known for some time that chemicals have been used in Syria. Suddenly it is the most pressing of issues.
One month remains before Obamacare reaches a tipping point. If it is to be stopped it must be by Oct. 1. The tactic proposed to prevent it becoming policy is not to fund it. The issue is not getting the attention it would if there were not the Syrian issue.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi infamously said in attempting to pass the bill they needed to pass it so they could see what was in it. Now that which is in it has been seen, it contains policies that will complicate medical service and disrupt the economy. If that is true why doesn’t Congress admit it was a mistake and not fund it?
It is interesting that Nancy Pelosi, who was instrumental in passing the bill, is one who has most strongly encouraged the president to take action against Syria. Ironically this is happening at the time consideration needs to be given to not funding the ACA she helped get passed for the president.
They make Copperfield look like an amateur who forgot where he put the rabbit.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.