I’ve been saying it all weekend in conversation, so let me restate it here for the record: Kathleen Sebelius’ refusal to testify about ObamaCare should be taken as a letter of resignation, accompanied by a lifetime ban on government service and forfeiture of all benefits, including pension and (most especially) health care. It’s fine if she wants to cover up this festering mass of corruption and incompetence, just as she’ll have a legal right to invoke the Fifth Amendment if compelled to testify, but the consequences should be devastating, and made clear to her before she gives her final answer.
There have been legislative proposals to expel federal officials like Lois Lerner who take the Fifth to avoid testimony. That is a fantastic idea, and it’s a thousand times more urgently needed than the “comprehensive immigration reform” that our ruling class is obsessed with. The Obama Administration has demonstrated, repeatedly, that nothing less will ever squeeze a drop of accountability from its dry veins.
Maybe we should have seen this coming, since the old concepts of transparency and accountability were largely based on the notion of shame as a motivating factor. Defiance of subpoenas and the concealment of vital documents would lead to withering media exposes by Pulitzer-hungry journalists, which would in turn produce public outrage and damage electoral prospects. But Team Obama realized early on that the love-struck media would never do more than grumble for a couple of days… even when they’re the subject of rough Administration treatment. Media adoration, plus their short attention span – which is often incorrectly portrayed as the public’s short attention span, but really, who outside of political junkies and information connoisseurs is going to keep following a story after the major media drops it? – mean that every scandal devolves into a game where the goal is surviving a few news cycles, and the most dependable strategy is for everyone to clam up, knowing that the worst consequences they face are administrative leave (i.e. paid vacation), a lateral transfer, or maybe retirement with plush benefits.
The public needs to know every last detail of the staggering incompetence behind the ObamaCare launch. They need to see every scrap of information pertaining to decisions that clearly put duty to the American people far behind political expedience – keeping serious problems under wraps until after the 2012 election, putting on a false happy face in the last weeks before this disastrous launch to keep the repeal and defund movements from gaining steam.
The people need to understand how badly they have been served by all this. It’s not a one-off scandal – this is a gigantic new government apparatus whose future decisions will be comparably outrageous and dangerous, if no one is held to account today. (Does anyone really still doubt Sarah Palin’s slam against the “death panels” after watching this horrific trillion-dollar launch fiasco?) And this isn’t some kind of national-security blunder in which documents and testimony can be redacted for intelligence reasons. This is about our money being stolen, and our lives being ruined. This is about pure corruption on a historic scale. There is no justification whatsoever for keeping a single email secret.