2013 was anything but a banner year for President Obama.
A peppering of failures and scandals marked the first year of the second term of the “most transparent administration in history.” These scandals came in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all shared one prominent feature.
That is the amount of knowledge Obama claimed to have of them before they happened – none.
In fact, it seems as if Obama has been practicing a technique of systematic denial of responsibility, claiming that as each new story of his administration’s incompetence breaks, he himself is only learning of it the same way we are – through the news.
This indites him, at the least, of poor leadership. At worst, it suggests criminal dishonesty.
His technique goes at least as far back as the 2012 scandal of “Project Fast and Furious,” when the government sold traceable weapons which were later used to kill Americans. The administration claimed that Obama learned of this botched, unethical program through the media.
Next was the revelation that the IRS was illegally discriminating against Tea Party entities, which Obama learned about “when it came out in the news.” Obama insisted he “certainly did not know anything” then pushed reforms that retroactively made the persecution legal.
The capstone was Obama’s plausible deniability concerning the Obamacare rollout, by which he was apparently “blindsided.“
This may raise questions about the quality of internal communication within the Obama administration, or it may raise questions about the president’s honesty and his interpretation of the word “transparent.” Here at the start of a new year, let’s have some fun speculating about what future stories Obama will be “blindsided” by, but which the average, educated American can probably see coming a mile away.
Could it be more having to do with Obamacare? Perhaps, when the administration’s prediction that 78 million Americans will lose their employer-provided coverage comes true, Obama will claim that he, personally, had no knowledge of this effect of the law that bears his name. Perhaps when it becomes clear that Obamacare sign-ups are dangerously trending toward the old and sick, leaving insurance companies in an untenable position, Obama will claim that he “could not have predicted” that the law would require a taxpayer bailout of the insurance industry. As next year’s open enrollment period begins in its now post-November-election time, voters will see skyrocketing premiums but be unable to rescind their already cast ballots. Perhaps the outcry over this will also “blindside” the president.
Indeed, if the media should break a story that Iran has developed a nuclear weapon, that Benghazi was a planned al Qaeda attack, or that the NSA’s snooping goes beyond our worst fears, how plausible will Barack Obama’s deniability be?
Sure, there are some things for which we should be profoundly thankful to the media if it manages to successfully communicate them to the president. If it succeeds, it will do so where trillions of dollars of government apparatus has failed.
One of these is the simple observation that the national debt doesn’t go away on its own. It’s doubtful that anyone would care whether Janet Yellen or the Washington Post passes this information along to Obama, as long as it reaches him. Likewise, any newspaper that can teach Obama what Kathleen Sebelius looks like gets our firm stamp of approval.
Let’s hope that 2014 sees the “blindsided” president (whom the GOP has called the “Bystander President“) learning from his mistakes and taking a more active role in the governance of his country and the doing of his job. As the year unfolds, we’ll all be keeping a close watch.