• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Obama Transforms State Department "Background Notes" Into Campaign Material

    Production by U.S. embassies of the State Department’s long-running series of annual “Background Notes” covering every country in the world had long been considered a useful service for the American public. Now, however, they appear to have morphed into yet another taxpayer-subsidized campaign commercial for the Obama Administration.

    The old Background Notes were sui generis—useful reference materials that were more comprehensive than the practical but choppy CIA “Factbook” and other U.S. government publications. Now, though, State has dropped everything from the Background Notes but the section on relations with the U.S. No more historical context, no recounting of complex and long-standing issues in the country. Just cut to the chase—that is, the time when the current Administration came to power.

    Compare the nearly 1,200-word “Fact Sheet” published this week by the U.S. embassy in Brazil with the last Background Note on Brazil written during the George W. Bush Administration.

    The 4,100-word Bush document, chock full of facts and figures helpful in analyzing the country and its importance to the U.S., never once mentions the name of any U.S. President. The 300-word section on U.S.–Brazil relations takes up about 7 percent of the document.

    Conversely, fully 70 percent (830 words) of the Brazil Fact Sheet, which is focused exclusively on U.S. relations with Brazil, discusses President Obama either directly by name (twice!) or in the context of the plethora of programs his Administration has launched with Brazil, including a shared “commitment to combat discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) status; to advance gender equality; a bilateral instrument that targets racism; support for HIV/AIDS prevention, promotion of clean energy technologies in Brazil, and mitigation of climate change.”

    There is no mention, however, of how much these many programs are costing the American taxpayer.

    Of course, the degree of glowing prose about a country’s relationship with the U.S. might depend on the political philosophy of the government. While the center-left government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, which took office in 2011, warrants buckets of praise, the center-right government of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, elected in 2010, gets much less ink (522 words) ,and the first paragraph dwells on the long-past bad old days in Chile under Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s.

    So, apparently, the need for historical context is selectively applied. And although President Obama visited Chile on the same March 2011 trip he made to Brazil, there is no mention of it in the document.

    Since President Obama took office, the budget of the State Department has increased from $38.7 billion to $50.2 billion, and thousands have been added to the payroll. Seems pretty easy to tell what many of them are doing.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Obama Transforms State Department "Background Notes" Into Campaign Material

    1. Lloyd Scallan says:

      I am amazed that this might be a surprise to anyone today. Only those that are true leftist refuse to accept the fact the Obama will do or say anything, use and destroy anyone, or lie and distort the truth to get reelected so he can complete his socialist transfromation of America.

    2. mikefesler says:

      Isn’t rewriting history fun???
      They should be very proud.

    3. @ericinva says:

      It'll take a long time to undo all the stupid things this administration has done.

    4. JLZ says:

      This is a ridiculous posting. How is mentioning the Presidents visit to Brazil and ongoing programs in which Brazil and the US are cooperating considered campaign material? Seems like pretty run of the mill stuff to me. And did you even read the Brazil background note written in the last year of Bush's administration?

      Second of all, you flat out lie to anyone who doesn't take the time to read the background notes. President Bush's name is, in fact, mentioned directly once (only one less time then Obama's)! How narcissistic of the Bush administration to say the President traveled to Brazil (I'm assuming you agree with that statement because you seem to harp on Obama for mentioning his visit).

      Even more shocking is that Bush's note also mentions areas of ongoing cooperation (oh the horrors!). Here's a direct quote from the Bush admin note:

      "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Brazil in March 2008 and signed a historic Joint Action Plan for Racial Equality. The plan calls for Brazil and the United States to work jointly in combating racial discrimination and sharing best practices in tackling discrimination in the areas of education, law enforcement, labor, health, and many other areas. On October 31, 2008, the joint action plan was officially launched with the announcement of six joint projects in the areas of education and labor. The plan is now in the implementation stage with each government engaging various members of the non-governmental organization and academic communities, as well as the private sector, to advance the plan’s objectives."

      Sounds pretty much like inserting administration accomplishments in public documents! In fact it sounds pretty much like the same program the Obama note was touting (except for the whole LGBT thing, because really who cares about them anyways)!

      I realize this posting may come across as sarcastic, but it's really difficult to take Republicans and their hatred of every little thing this President does seriously.

    5. radicaltruth says:

      Egomania and narcissism. His right and left hand.

    6. Abu Nudnik says:

      I'm glad he's wasting his time with this Winston Smithish behavior. No voter will read them. But it's a disturbing revelation of a disturbed mind. I'm looking forward to his self-destruction. I don't think he can keep it together. Then the records can go back to being records instead of advertisements for a self-aggrandizing monomaniac.

    7. CAK says:

      Could this type of "change" and dumbing down of information that gives us recourse come from those Czars that have vanished and are not accountable to anyone except the President. This lack of information simply leaves us in the dark and more vulnerable.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.