The Conversation

The importance of resignation

We're not far removed from an era when people like Attorney General Eric Holder and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have immediately resigned over the Fast and Furious and Benghazi scandals, respectively.  

Benghazi probably wouldn't even have needed to reach the cover-up stage to finish Hillary off.  Remember, on the eve of the second presidential debate, she rushed forward to "take responsibility" for the hideous failures of leadership that left Ambassador Chris Stevens without protection or hope of rescue in a region known to be dangerous, on a day of known significance to America's enemies.  20 or 30 years ago, such a statement would invariably have been followed by "... and I am therefore tendering my resignation, effective immediately."  Everyone from the media to the voting public would have expected it.

Resignation after such catastrophic failure is important, not merely as a punitive political measure against the President, but because the organization cannot focus on improvement and reform without it.  When someone like Holder or Clinton remains in charge, enormous energy is diverted toward protecting them from criticism.  Absurdities like the Obama Administration's fabled Incompetence Defense result, in which people like Holder and Clinton claim they should be immune to criticism - or perjury charges - because they're inept and don't know what their departments are doing.  

Eric Holder did it again today, in the course of claiming he has no idea what his Justice Department was up to when it grabbed those Associated Press phone records.  And Barack Obama has now claimed to be completely unaware of both the IRS and AP scandals until he saw them discussed on the evening news.

It's faintly comical to see every high official in the Obama Administration claim their "low level" underlings are running wild, completely beyond both their control and knowledge.  Clint Eastwood's Empty Chair is everywhere in this White House; all of the chairs are empty.  But it's also incredibly dangerous, because these powerful federal agencies require both supervision and accountability.  To borrow a word the Obama crew uses constantly without meaning it: it is unacceptable for the President to be completely unaware of his Administration's activities, and for his top people to claim they're in a constant state of shock as scandal after scandal boils out of their departments.  (Assuming, of course, you're willing to take the Incompetence Defense at face value, and believe their claims of ignorance.)

If Eric Holder had resigned after Fast and Furious, would someone capable of actually managing the Justice Department be at the helm now?  Would the AP phone scandal have occurred?  As it stands, Holder's promise to use the hyper-politicized department he so incompetently "manages" to run a criminal investigation of the IRS is almost laughable.  Holder needs to go, right now, and all of his top people should be sent with him.  When an Attorney General of competence, character, and political independence has been installed, an investigation of the Obama Administration can be taken seriously, but not before.


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