In my articles over the last few weeks, I have been laying the groundwork for this article about my own view of President Obama’s legacy. Prior to May, I had refrained from pointed personal criticism of Barack Obama himself. Ideological disagreement with an elected official is not justification to question his/her legitimacy to hold office. Like recall elections, I feel that pointed personal accusations should be reserved for matters that cross the line into personal ethical lapses and official malpractice.
President Obama has been tip-toeing near that line for 4½ years, and now there is ample evidence that he and his administration have crossed it. What he and his confederates inside the Executive Branch did, and then covered up, to get him re-elected “at all costs” shows they truly believe that the ends justify ANY means.
So here is my illustrated essay on President Obama and Accountability, two things that are less familiar with each other than the North and South poles.
As I wrote on June 22nd, the Executive Branch of the federal government is a mammoth. However, there is a hierarchy to the Executive Branch. The top of the pyramid is the President – the “Chief Executive.” In fact, the first clause in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution is called the Executive Vesting Clause: ““The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”
That word “vested” doesn’t just include responsibility and authority. Such a two-legged Seat of Power would topple over. The third leg that is necessary to keep the Seat of Power standing on firm ground is accountability.
Unfortunately, over the 237 years of America’s existence, Congress has authorized and funded a ridiculously disjointed federal bureaucracy. There are about 70 so-called “independent agencies and government corporations.” For budgeting purposes, they are part of the Executive Branch, but Congress created them to be independent of direct control by the President. Trouble is, Congress doesn’t really bother to tightly control them either, so they drift around, unmoored, like icebergs – mostly invisible beneath the surface. Although the “independence” of these agencies gives a plausible cover story for the President to disavow knowledge of their activities, that’s highly debatable. But that’s a topic for another article.
I will limit the remainder of this accountability discussion to just the core Executive Administration that is inarguably under the direct control of the President. Even it is still a mini-mammoth, consisting of about a dozen executive offices and councils supporting the President and VP, plus fifteen Cabinet-level Departments, currently led by these appointed Secretaries:
- Agriculture – Secretary Thomas Vilsack
- Commerce – Acting Secretary Cameron Kerry
- Defense – Secretary Chuck Hagel
- Education – Secretary Arne Duncan
- Energy – Secretary Ernest Moniz
- Health & Human Services – Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
- Homeland Security – Secretary Janet Napolitano
- Housing & Urban Development – Secretary Shaun Donovan
- Interior – Secretary Sally Jewell
- Justice – Attorney General Eric Holder
- Labor – Acting Secretary Seth Harris
- State – Secretary John Kerry
- Transportation – Secretary Ray LaHood
- Treasury – Secretary Jack Lew
- Veterans Affairs – Secretary Eric Shinseki
I have listed these to remind us of all the Federal Departments from which President Obama has no plausible claim of independence. The President is accountable for their actions. Unfortunately he clearly doesn’t agree. I challenge you to start critically listening to the daily sound bites of the President and his Press Secretary when asked about the shenanigans in these 15 dept’s. Notice how the President and his Press Secretary consistently act like spectators sitting on the sidelines.
Want some examples to train your hearing? Easy. Here are seven:
Was the IRS acting “independently” when it specifically targeted conservative groups and individuals for harassment and processing delays? Nope, the IRS is part of President Obama’s Treasury Dept. with a seat in his Cabinet then occupied by Timothy Geithner.
Was the State Dept. acting “independently” when it played a major role in obscuring the truth about Benghazi? Nope, it’s President Obama’s State Dept. with a seat in his Cabinet then occupied by Hillary Clinton.
Was the Dept. of Justice acting “independently” when it secretly subpoenaed the Associated Press phone records, dismissed the open&shut case of 2008 voter intimidation in Philadelphia, and orchestrated the Fast & Furious fiasco? Nope, it’s President Obama’s Justice Dept. with a seat in his Cabinet occupied by Eric Holder.
Was the Dept. of Health & Human Services acting “independently” when Kathleen Sebelius illegally raised non-government funds for HHS, and illegally campaigned for the President while travelling on official HHS business? Nope, it’s President Obama’s HHS Dept. with her sitting in his Cabinet.
So how does President Obama have the gall to look us in the eye and distance himself and his White House from these ethics violations and governmental malpractice, as if it’s somebody else’s government? Why do he and his Press Secretary spend so much time splitting hairs about whether the White House or the State Department or the Justice Department or the Treasury Department or the HHS Department is to blame for this scandal or that transgression?
Answer: Because President Obama is not an accountable leader. He’s an ideological hood ornament, on a perpetual road trip with his speechwriters and his teleprompter. While he bloviates, the fifteen icebergs drift recklessly.
Conclusion: Truth in Presidential Nicknaming
Charles Krauthammer recently said that President Obama “is a bystander to his own presidency.” That’s almost where I am going with this, but….
I believe President Obama is purposely letting his ship of state drift wherever the progressive currents take it. He and his inside handlers – David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – have continuously attempted to erase any attached strings between the Oval Office and the growing number of scandals now plaguing his Executive Branch.
I conclude, then, that President Obama should be forever remembered by this non-Great nickname: