Scandals are nothing new in Washington. Just about every president has faced an accusation of misconduct, whether moral or criminal. It should be no surprise that the Obama administration finds itself in the midst of one (well actually three).
Many Republicans have been quick to declare this the end of President Obama, even calling for impeachment. However, these scandals are not the personal failings of Mr. Obama himself, rather they are the failings of the liberal philosophy which he and his entire administration espouse. In case you were out camping without a cellphone last week, here is a brief recap in order of appearance:
• Benghazi: The White House has been criticized for failing to prevent the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and of misleading the public about it.
• IRS: Conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were targeted for extra scrutiny, beginning shortly after Scott P. Brown's special election U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts in 2010 through the 2012 presidential campaign. Also, confidential tax documents of prominent conservatives were leaked to the media.
• TheAssociated Press: The Department of Justice acquired the phone records of AP reporters over two months in an effort to locate an administration leak.
APgate is troubling, but the problem for the Republicans is that acquiring phone records is legal and part of the Patriot Act. Attempts to roll this particular part of the legislation back have been convincingly voted down by both parties. Suddenly, the Republicans realize that an overreaching Patriot Act may not have been a good thing, but that stance looks to be driven by politics rather than ideology.
The IRS scandal is the most relatable and represents the most immediate problem for our country. Only a fool would believe that two to four field workers took it upon themselves to institute a policy of red taping conservative groups. The scandal rises higher, but I seriously doubt Mr. Obama directed such actions.
Benghazi was undoubtedly a tragedy. Was there negligence? Yes. Was there a poor attempt at spin? Most definitely. Were departments pointing fingers at each other? As sure as the sun shines. Is anything that happened impeachable? No. More than anything Benghazi is another example of an administration getting caught flat-footed and stumbling to fudge the facts for fear that Americans could not handle the truth, especially so close to the elections.
And that, my dear readers, gets to the heart of what the week was really about: the competence of a government ruled by a party that thinks the solution to every problem is more government.
This is not about Obama the man, or even about Obama the president. This is not even about Republicans and Democrats. This is about the fundamental failure of progressive liberal ideology.
Logistics alone make it impossible for a government to solve every citizen's problem. Yet, a bigger government is expected to do just that. Big government is inflexible; it cannot respond to priorities because, over time, there are too many competing priorities. The greater the bureaucracy grows, the more it becomes impersonal, wasteful, over-stretched, and difficult to rein in.
Furthermore, big government does not trust you to know how best to run your life, yet other imperfect beings are somehow capable of properly directing your life as soon as they are employed by the government. People are fallible, and so is the state.
If liberals are right about the role of government, then how did these scandals happen? Do we truly need more government to stop these things from happening?
Regarding Benghazi, should even more officials debated whether to send troops to save our people? Perhaps there should not have been a consulate in a hot zone in the first place, especially one so ill-protected. How effective can an isolated diplomatic post on lockdown really be? It seems more prudent to have a smaller footprint in extreme conflict areas (especially when our military is not in the field), which would save more lives and treasure.
Regarding the IRS, do auditors need more laws and supervisors to prevent such abuse? What happened is already illegal. Then again, maybe a simpler tax code would be the solution. If the law is so simple even a caveman can do it, then fewer IRS agents are needed, or conversely, it would free up existing agents to more quickly process paperwork.
And finally, regarding the AP do we need more Patriot Act provisions to protect the U.S. by suspecting every citizen and stopping potential whistleblowers? Does the government need more power to track everyone's movements and communications now that modern technology gives them the ability to do so?
I think we need to take a serious look at the Patriot Act and begin rolling it back. Our government was founded on the belief that we are all "innocent until proven guilty" and should be afforded due process.
In order for our republic to function, we must be able to trust the government to faithfully protect our rights and privacy. However, treating everyone like a suspected criminal only weakens our confidence in the government's willingness to safeguard our liberties. A government dedicated to civil rights is more trusting and less invasive, which compels it to be smaller.
This is not the end of the Obama presidency (unless a bombshell drops), and cries of impeachment by certain Republicans only hurt conservatives who are focused on winning the wars of ideas, not scoring short-term political points against a man who will not be on the ballot in three years.
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