President Barack Obama rarely makes himself available to the mainstream media. They adore him anyway. At rare press conferences, such as the one scheduled for noon Friday at the White House, they lob softball questions or accept his evasive, meandering answers, rarely pressing him for clarity, much less truth. But there are many questions that the president ought to answer, yet which he is unlikely to face at all.
10. In 2008 you promised not to “do an end-run around Congress” with signing statements. Yet you have used signing statements and you have taken executive actions to circumvent Congress on immigration and other issues. Recently, you decided the employer mandate will not be enforced on October 1. Yet that date is stipulated by law. Doesn’t the Obamacare delay violate your powers under the Constitution?
9. Last week we learned that dozens of CIA personnel were in Benghazi at the time of the attack, and that there may be ongoing efforts to suppress information about what actually happened. In October 2012, you said that you issued three directives when you learned of the attack, yet these have never been seen. What did you actually do during the Benghazi attack, and why weren’t you more actively involved?
8. Last month, IRS officials testified to Congress that IRS Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins, whom you appointed, was directly involved in reviewing applications for non-profit status by Tea Party groups. He also met with you in April 2012, prior to issuing new “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) criteria for evaluating such applications. What was your personal knowledge of the IRS scrutiny of conservative groups?
7. Recently your administration launched a new round of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leaders. Israel had repeatedly said that it would negotiate without preconditions, but Palestinian leaders would not. Your administration, through Secretary of State John Kerry, pressed Israel to release 104 terrorists from Israeli jails. Was there a single new concession you demanded from Palestinians?
6. You have publicly dressed down the U.S. military on the issue of sexual assault. In the 2012 campaign, you were very involved in specific controversies, even calling Sandra Fluke, for example. Yet you have refused to say anything about the conduct of a fellow Democrat, Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego, who refuses to resign. Aren’t you setting a bad example on sexual assault, as commander-in-chief, in the Filner case?
5. Edward Snowden has continued to reveal new information about the National Security Agency’s abilities to gather information about Americans’ private communications. Leaving aside the question of whether the government should have that power, or whether you have broken past promises on civil liberties, the fact that these leaks happened at all is striking. Why is Gen. Keith Alexander still the head of the NSA?
4. Recently you announced that you were canceling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, over the Snowden issue and gay rights. Yet last month, even after Putin indicated he might offer Snowden asylum, you were still offering drastic cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal. It looks like the “reset” with Russia is a failure, after so many concessions. Isn’t it time to stop offering new cuts to U.S. nuclear weapons?
3. You are backing the Senate immigration bill, which passed because Democrats agreed to include border security measures. Regardless of whether those measures are sufficient, they depend on a commitment to enforce the law as written. Yet you have refused to enforce existing immigration laws, even imposing a so-called “Dream Act” by fiat. Why should Americans trust you to enforce a new immigration law?
2. You campaigned on the promise to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet you have helped the Taliban open a new office in Qatar, complicating relations with President Hamid Karzai, and recently suggested that there could be a “zero option” in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, as the U.S. withdraws, Al Qaeda is on the offensive across the region, and might return. Are we not repeating the mistakes of the past in Afghanistan?
1. You are about to head into a new round of budget negotiations. Some Republicans leaders have suggested that they are willing to offer concessions on the budget sequester if you commit to entitlement reform. You have spoken in theory about making some cuts but have never presented a plan, on paper, and have rejected all suggestions, even the Simpson-Bowles commission. Where is your plan to reform entitlements?
Bonus question: Last month, you spoke at length about how the African-American community views the death of Trayvon Martin case. You also asked people to respect the decision of the jury. Yet your Department of Justice is still aggressively investigating George Zimmerman, who is living in hiding, though all previous investigations showed no racial bias. Aren’t you violating Zimmerman’s civil rights?
UPDATE – Additional bonus question (from the comments): When you signed the Affordable Care Act, it included the Grassley amendment, subjecting members of Congress and their staff to the same rules as everyone else. Yet this week you signed off on special subsidies for members of Congress and their staff. Given your focus on inequality, how do you justify giving Congress Obamacare subsidies?
UPDATE 2 – Another bonus question (via Twitter): There is no longer any doubt that Nidal Hasan was motivated by radical Islamist beliefs. In May, you actually acknowledged for the first time that the Ft. Hood attack was an act of “Islamic jihad.” Yet your administration still considers is “workplace violence,” which denies victims certain benefits. Isn’t it time to declare the Ft. Hood shootings a terrorist act?