Barack Obama, the spectator president
No, this is not Watergate or Iran-Contra. Nor is it like the sex scandal that got Bill Clinton impeached.
The AP, IRS and Benghazi matters represent a scandal not of presidential wrongdoing, but of presidential indolence, indifference and incompetence in discharging the duties of chief executive.
The Barack Obama revealed to us in recent days is something rare in our history: a spectator president, clueless about what is going on in his own household, who reacts to revelations like some stunned bystander.
Consider. Because of a grave national security leak, President Obama's Department of Justice seized two months of records from 20 telephones used by The Associated Press. An unprecedented seizure.
Yet the president was left completely in the dark. And though he rushed to defend the seizure, he claims he was uninvolved.
The Benghazi issue is of far greater gravity. Still, Obama's sins here as well seem to be those of omission, not commission.
The president was apparently in the dark about the urgent requests from Benghazi for more security. Obama was also apparently out of the loop during the seven-hour crisis of Sept. 11-12, when Ambassador Stevens was assassinated, calls for help from Benghazi were denied and two heroic ex-Navy SEALs died fighting to defend U.S. personnel.
The following week, as the State Department, CIA and National Security Council all worked the “talking points” to make it appear that this preplanned terrorist atrocity was a spontaneous event triggered by an anti-Islamic video, Obama knew nothing of the discussions.
Almost a week after the massacre, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was put on six networks to move the line that what happened in Benghazi was a spontaneous event triggered by a YouTube video. Yet a week after Rice got egg all over her face, Obama was peddling the same line at the United Nations. Obama, it seems, may have been the last man to know the cover story had collapsed.
IRS targeting of tea party applications for tax-exempt status began as far back as 2010. Yet, despite tea party protests to members of Congress, who made inquiries of the IRS, the discrimination against groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names continued and was extended to groups whose proclaimed mission was to defend the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
Last weekend we learned that the White House counsel was told in April about the IRS misconduct and the investigations, but she did not inform President Obama. He learned about it from news reports.
What we have here, it appears, is a government out of control and a president clueless about what is going on in that government.
And that is the best case. For it is difficult to believe the IRS could conduct a full-court press on Obama's opponents and that IRS highter-ups and Treasury knew about it — but the White House was kept in the dark about a scandal that could have derailed the Obama campaign.
Who demonized tea party people? Who created the climate of contempt? Whoever did gave moral sanction to those IRS agents.
And the Spectator President is right in the vanguard.
Pat Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”