On the face of it, President Obama and Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes have very little in common. Obama is a pragmatic liberal and Ailes a blowhard conservative. Obama is known to be a pretty nice guy in person, while Ailes is a notorious asshole. However, they do have one thing in common: they are both incredibly powerful figures who have risen through the ranks to head up massive organizations (Obama’s obviously being a little bigger). While Ailes might be a gigantic douchebag, he’s clearly no idiot. Which is why a quote from Zev Chafets’ 2012 biography of Ailes is proving, in hindsight, to be rather interesting. McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed pulled the following part of an interview with Ailes where the Fox News boss outlines the strategy he would use to deal with the crisis in Syria:
“Putin is angry. He thinks the United States doesn’t take him seriously or treat Russia as a major player. Okay, fine, that’s how he feels. If I were president, I’d get in a room with him and say, ‘Look at the slaughter going on in Syria. You can stop it. Do it, and I’ll see to it that you can get all the credit. I’ll tell the world it was you who saved the innocent children of Syria from slaughter. You’ll be an international hero. You’ll go down in history.’
Hell, Putin would go to bed thinking, ‘That’s not a bad offer.’ There will still be plenty of other issues I’d have with Russia. But instead of looking for one huge deal that settles everything, you take a piece of the problem and solve it. Give an incentive for good behavior. Show the other guy his self-interest. Everybody has an ego. Everybody needs dignity. And what does it cost? You get what you want; you give up nothing.”
Sound familiar? It’s still unclear whether Obama instigated the inclusion of Russia in the Syria debacle, but he’s certainly using them to bring about a deal that potentially averts a crisis. It is unlikely that Obama would have spent much time poring over the wisdom of Roger Ailes, but the parallels in both men’s understanding of the use of power is certainly interesting.
Of course the Right won’t ever give Obama credit for this – just as conservatives crafted the original concept behind Obamacare, they will be incapable of praising Obama for following strategies laid out by their own leaders.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.