ANALYSIS / OPINION
“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”
— Will Rogers
Has there ever been a president in the history of America who knew less than President Obama?
With each new crisis and scandal, Mr. Obama tells Americans that he just didn’t know.
He didn’t know the Veterans Administration was letting America’s veterans languish and die unattended — he learned about it in the newspaper.
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He didn’t know the Justice Department was trolling phone records of members of the U.S. media. He didn’t know the ATF was running guns into Mexico; didn’t know the NSA was spying on the German chancellor; didn’t know the Obamacare website was a disaster; didn’t know the IRS was targeting conservative groups.
With every scandal, the president — the CEO of the United States, if you will — said he first learned about it in the papers. If he were head of Apple or IBM, he’d have been fired years ago, because in business, it’s your job to know, and ignorance is, frankly, even worse than failing. Fail = fired.
Each time Mr. Obama is faced with a scandal, he does three things: First, he expresses outrage (he is, after all, a man only of words, not deeds); then, he blames his predecessor, George W. Bush; finally, he wraps the entire mess up in bureaucratic red tape — a blue-ribbon investigation.
That last move, Mr. Obama’s go-to dodge, does two things: No one, not even the president himself, can speak on the matter (“It’s under investigation and we should hold off on any … “); And second, a lengthy probe means Americans will be distracted and move on by the time any final finding is reached.
That’s what happened with Fast and Furious, the gun-running scandal that eventually prompted Congress to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt. What did the president do? Nothing. Not a thing. All the other scandals have followed the same template.
When the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Obama and his minions refused to comment for months, citing the “investigation.” That led to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton uttering her infamous line when forced to testify before Congress months later: “What difference at this point does it make?”
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This latest of many scandals is exactly the same. Dozens of America’s veterans died waiting for health care, and reports have emerged that government employees actively covered up the scandal. So, Mr. Obama deftly dodged the press for weeks, sending out his flack Jay “Circus” Carney to cover for him with his pals in the White House briefing room.
Then, the president held a meeting with the prime culprit in the latest scandal — behind closed doors. Which, of course, led to the press conference in which the milquetoast commander in chief expressed his outrage, as he did Wednesday.
“When I hear allegations of misconduct — any misconduct — whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it. Not as Commander-in-Chief,” the piqued president peeped.
While Mr. Obama harangued Bush over the VA as far back as 2007, pledging to fix the system if elected president, more than five years in office later he once again blamed his predecessor.
“Some of the problems with respect to how veterans are able to access the benefits that they’ve earned, that’s not a new issue,” he said. “So today, I want every veteran to know we are going to fix whatever is wrong.”
Lastly, the president announced — The Probe. “But we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened,” he said. Queried by reporters, he dodged: “I don’t want to get ahead of the IG report or the other investigations that are being done.”
Just like in Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the phone records scandal, the spying scandal, the Obamacare website scandal, no heads rolled. No one was ever held accountable, least of all the president — the CEO.
But asked who is to blame for this latest scandal, Mr. Obama said Wednesday: “You know, the responsibility for things always rests ultimately with me, as the president and commander-in-chief.”
And he pledged, once again: “I am going to make sure that there is accountability throughout the system — after I get the full report.”
So, maybe he’ll fire himself?
Or maybe, just maybe, the American people should hold him accountable and fire him, quick.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.