On Friday, speaking before the graduating class at the Naval Academy in Maryland, President Obama compared sexual assault cases in the military to IRS profiling of conservatives. “It’s no secret that in recent decades many Americans have lost confidence in many of the institutions that help shape our society and our democracy. But I suggest to you today that institutions do not fail in a vacuum. Institutions are made up of people, individuals. And we’ve seen how the actions of a few can undermine the integrity of those institutions,” Obama said.
Every day, our civil servants do their jobs with professionalism — protecting our national security and delivering the services that so many Americans expect. But as we’ve seen again in recent days, it only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people’s trust in their government. That’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you ….
[W]e must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide. In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace. Likewise, those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong.
Painting institutions with a broad brush has a long and illustrious history for President Obama. President Obama, of course, suggested when he was Senator Obama that “Abu Ghraib obviously is something that all of us should be ashamed for, even if you were supportive of a war.” He said in 2007, “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.”
More importantly, comparing the IRS scandal to sexual assault in the military downplays the fact that the IRS standards dictated targeting conservatives. There are no military standards that condone sexual assault or harassment. One scandal, in other words, is systemic. The other is individual. But President Obama conflated the two today in an attempt to pass off responsibility for the IRS scandal on a few bad apples.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).