In the last couple of weeks, the folks in the Obama White House have been howling about the unfair treatment they have received from the media on the IRS, Benghazi and the AP scandals. Yes, the fourth estate has turned on the president. The fawning and Messiah-like coverage he has enjoyed for the last 5 years appears to be over, at least for now. That’s what happens when you turn on one of your own, which is apparently what the Holder Justice Department did to the venerable Associated Press, by collecting phone numbers, and secretly investigating who might have leaked what to whom.
An understandable comparison which has sprung up is to Richard Nixon and his delusional paranoia about leaks, conspiracies and enemies which fueled the disgraced former president into a paralyzing fear of losing power to his enemies. Nixon’s biggest problem was that he was a megalomaniac who believed he needed to destroy his political enemies before they destroyed him. Unfortunately President Obama appears to suffer from the same affliction. Or does he?
In Obama-World every problem, every question or challenge made about the president’s policies, remarks or policy decisions - especially those that might come from Republicans – have been viewed as an affront, a personal assault to the Office of the Presidency. Even when members of the media would question the president’s policies before the recent “scandals,” Obama and his aides greeted such plebeian inquiry as insulting, uninformed and unjustified attacks on a chief executive with a God complex who views himself as infallible.
Obama is about as cold and aloof as any president in history. He makes Lyndon Johnson look warm and fuzzy. He makes Dwight Eisenhower look like Mr. Rogers. He makes George W. Bush appear to have been an unscripted, unguarded guy who shot from the hip saying whatever he wanted, whenever he felt like it. Obama is brooding and cool. Removed and distant. Obama is uninterested and unwilling to reach out even to leaders in his own party to make deals, to introduce any human connection, friendship or collaboration into the process of governing and legislating.
The closest he comes to being Nixonian is his clear discomfort with forging relationships with either party on the Hill or even within his own administration. The Pope likely has a less formal opinion of himself when he’s hanging out at the Vatican water cooler.
And so the long knives of President Obama’s many enemies are now out and they are honed upon Caesar himself. The president has no real friends or allies in Washington. Let’s hope Bo the White House Dog doesn’t turn on him next.
All of this “scandal” may be less than it’s cracked up to be. The comparisons to Nixon’s “high crimes and misdemeanors,” “abuses of power” and possible “impeachable offenses” continue as more layers of the onion are peeled away. However I’m not sure this is quite as malignant as the political skullduggery wrought by Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean, Mitchell and Hunt. As they say, never assume malice when incompetence is far more likely.
The president’s responses to all of this are pretty pathetic: “We never knew about it,” “We were unaware,” “I had no knowledge,” “We first learned about this when we read it in the newspapers.” These are rope-a-dope answers designed to suggest that this president, his staff and indeed the bloated government he has built are too big, too complicated and too disconnected for anyone to manage - even the Messiah himself! The excuse is we can’t know what everyone is doing every minute of every day. You didn’t communicate with your Secretary of State? What about your Attorney General (speaking of arrogant and aloof!)? How about your Secretary of the Treasury who has reporting oversight of the IRS?
These excuses are ridiculous at best. For the chief executive of any company, the governor of any state, or the cabinet secretary of any agency who presides over a scandal like the ones we are seeing today, the correct behavior is to stand up and say: “It happened on my watch and it’s my responsibility to find out what the hell went on, identify the parties responsible and remove them from positions of responsibility so that this kind of foolishness never happens again.” We call it personal responsibility, but the concept is an anathema to this administration for which the buck stops anywhere except with them. The Obama administration’s collective reaction points to one other thing besides a sense of infallibility and misplaced self-importance. It points to pure, undeniable incompetence.
This president wants government to do all, provide for all, know all and fix all, and he is now forced to admit that the very same concept of government, without adult supervision, can tread on constitutional rights, violate personal freedoms and misuse the very power it has amassed. Corruption, scandal, conspiracy and cover-up are much sexier, but the reality that is due to incompetence and an inability to take responsibility is far more troubling to me.
History will ultimately judge this president by his actions and his accomplishments.
But for a guy who wants the government to run everything and now wants to turn healthcare over to the same bureaucracy whose Justice Department decided to snoop into the phone records of a supposedly free press is … troubling, to say the least. Who knows, one day Eric Holder or his successor may want to know a little more about your personal health history. But that could never happen…right?