Harry Truman had a well-known saying: “The buck stops here.” This phrase meant he took responsibility for everything that happened in his administration.
President Obama also has a saying that he and his staff use often. This phrase is not always worded identically every time, but the idea is the same: the president had no idea about the scandal/situation/event (choose whichever word you prefer) beforehand. The underlying meaning is that Obama is not responsible for what happened.
Let’s review. Fast and Furious was a gun trafficking scandal that left a border patrol agent dead. According to Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, the president was not even aware of the scandal until he heard about it from the news media.
There is also a scandal involving the IRS targeting conservative groups. Again, the administration announced they had no prior knowledge of the scandal and that, once again, the president found out about it from the media.
Just a few more. Hang in there. The Justice Department hacked the phones of members of the Associated Press, but apparently Obama didn’t know anything about that. Obama was allegedly not aware that the NSA was spying on world leaders. The White House also announced that the president was not even aware of the problems with the healthcare.gov website associated with his signature piece of legislation, commonly known as Obamacare.
All of these denials beg the question: Who is in charge at the White House?
Now, there are only a few ways to look at these excuses and all of them should lead to someone getting fired. The first scenario is that someone at the White House is purposely keeping the president uninformed. In this case that person should be fired, and the president should learn from the experience to stay better informed.
Another scenario is that the heads of the departments involved in the scandals are keeping things from the president. Eric Holder, for example, authorized the Fast and Furious operation and also the wiretapping of the Associated Press reporters. So, why is he still the attorney general? Kathleen Sebelius, in testimony before congress, asked that she be held responsible for the healthcare.gov debacle. Fair enough. She needs to go. After all, if these people really did know about these problems and didn’t tell Obama, shouldn’t it follow that they no longer work for the president or the American people?
The third scenario is much more serious. What if Obama not only knew about these events but also ordered the actions that eventually led to the scandals. In this case there is no doubt that Obama would be impeached. There is no evidence so far to suggest that this is the case, so why do I bring it up? Because there are major inconsistencies, and even downright lies, that have been told by this administration. Obama has lost a lot of credibility in the eyes of the American people.
Consider, for example, the reports from other media outlets that Obama found out about the NSA spying on the German chancellor and not only did not stop it, but he ordered it to continue. In addition, Obama and the ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, blamed the Benghazi terrorist attacks on a YouTube video. This narrative was proven false and reports have come out suggesting that Obama knew this even while he continued to blame the video. And don’t forget the lies Obama told about people being able to keep their insurance if they like it. Turns out that wasn’t true for many Americans, and he knew it from the beginning.
The “denials of knowledge” the president and his staff use allow him to plead ignorance of these scandals, but it is also a double-edged sword. Either Obama ordered the actions that led to these scandals or he is one of the most incompetent men to ever serve as president. I don’t say that lightly, but if he didn’t know beforehand, obviously there are people in his administration who commit unethical, and even illegal, activities. And if someone was intentionally keeping information from the president, shouldn’t that person have been fired after the first scandal was uncovered?
I understand if the president doesn’t want to hold himself responsible for everything that happens in his administration the way Truman did, but the fact is that these events did take place and somebody needs to take responsibility. But nobody has been fired for even one of these scandals. Not one person has been held responsible even though in at least two of these scandals, Fast and Furious and Benghazi, Americans were killed. I have no confidence in a president who apparently is so out of touch that he supposedly is not aware of serious situations until he reads about them in the newspaper the next day. So, whom should we look to for answers? Where does the buck stop in the Obama White House?