President Barack Obama, in a speech Wednesday, blamed political posturing and phony scandals for Washington’s inability to get much done to benefit the American people.
The President wants America to know that he has many plans for improving the economy, “But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” he said. “And I am here to say this needs to stop. (Applause.) This needs to stop.”
There’s one burning question: Which scandals does the President consider phony?
Lawmakers, pundits and average Americans have spent the past 10 months trying to figure out what happened leading up to and after the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the hands of Islamic extremists in Benghazi, Libya.
Still, the White House has not provided any real answers. That’s likely because admitting that a cover-up of executive failures was orchestrated to protect the Obama campaign would reveal that the Benghazi scandal is more tangible than even Obama’s harshest critics originally believed.
Later, the State Department intimidated officials who knew the truth of what happened in Benghazi –and others who knew about misconduct in the agency.
In May, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service has frequently singled out American citizens and groups with conservative political leanings for increased scrutiny. During a Congressional oversight hearing on the matter, Lois Lerner, IRS director of Exempt Organizations, invoked her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Obama axed IRS chief Steven Miller, who was already nearing the end of his term, with great fanfare. And the agency blamed the scandal on low-level employees and vowed to do better.
But no real consequence emerged. No massive tax-reform effort. No massive cuts to the agency, even after further damning reports about IRS officials wasting troves of taxpayer money on lavish conferences.
Furthermore, Americans still don’t know why the IRS commissioner visited the White House 118 times during Obama’s tenure, compared to one visit during the previous Presidential Administration. Nor do they know why a top IRS aide made more than 300 visits to the Presidential residence. One White House meeting between Obama and a high ranking IRS official occurred on April 23, 2012, two days before a new set of advice on how to scrutinize tea party and conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status was sent to the IRS exempt organizations determinations unit .
In 2011, Americans learned that Federal officials were involved in an attempt to vilify firearms by handing them to Mexican drug cartels. The effort, dubbed Fast and Furious, came to a head when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Americans wanted to know who was responsible, as firearms smuggling and dealings with dangerous criminal elements are certainly not the business of Federal officials on the taxpayer dime.
Unfortunately for information seekers, Attorney General Eric Holder absolved the ATF of any wrongdoing and absolved himself of any wrongdoing. And President Obama basically said that, by order of executive privileged, Americans shouldn’t expect answers because it would damage national security.
Luckily, this is a Nation built on the idea that a well-informed public is an absolute necessity to the greater good of all citizens. That means, protected by the 1st Amendment, America’s journalists have the power to hit the streets and find out the answers to the questions that the White House refuses to acknowledge.
Those journalists do need to be sure, however, that they never run afoul of Obama’s all-seeing Administration, a fact duly noted by The Associated Press revelation that the Justice Department seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to The AP and its journalists in April and May 2012. The Federal government collected personal and work-related information from more than 100 journalists.
When government officials won’t talk about their gross misconduct and the American press is intimidated by a bully Federal government, it seems all hope is lost for American citizens concerned about the state of the Nation and seeking answers. But there are still ways for the public to come upon pertinent information about how the government is abusing them.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden recently revealed that the National Security Agency is constantly collecting the electronic communications data of virtually all Americans. Meanwhile, Snowden has taken refuge in Russia to avoid Federal retribution for revealing the government’s dirty little secret. The White House was forced to acknowledge the leak and promised that the Department of Justice would investigate.
The same Department of Justice that looked into Fast and Furious. The same Department of Justice that said it is looking into the IRS malfeasance. The same Department of Justice that secretly spied on American journalists. The same Department of Justice that will likely skewer Snowden if he is ever captured.
And, except for a few standouts, Congress is complicit in all of the above-mentioned scandals because legislators have made no tangible effort to force answers out of the Administration. Hearings happen, questions are asked, but then — as illustrated with the defeat of Representative Justin Amash’s defund the NSA amendment, Wednesday — nothing is done to protect Americans from the growing executive and its vast abuses of power.
Obama is partially right that something is phony in Washington, but it certainly isn’t the growing list of scandals surrounding his Administration. It is his leadership, and that of the almost the entire political class in Washington, that is truly phony.