It seems every major scandal, abuse of power, and spectacular failure in President Barack Obama’s administration happens, we’re told, without the president’s knowledge.
When Lois Lerner first confessed to improperly targeting tea party groups via a planted question at a conference, she blamed it on “rogue agents” in Cincinnati.
We later found out that Lerner herself had sent an email that said: “Tea Party Matter very dangerous. This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether Citizens United overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax exempt rules. Counsel and Judy Kinell need to be in on this one... Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”
By “counsel,” she meant Obama-appointee William Wilkins, the IRS chief counsel. And according to Carter Hull at the IRS Technical Unit in Washington, that’s indeed where he was told to send all the tea party files for review. Hull said he had never seen anything like it in his 50 years at the agency.
And when the Treasury Inspector General conducted his audit, he notified the White House weeks before Lerner’s bizarre confession and scapegoating of Cincinnati.
Yet the president knows nothing. He learned about it by watching the news.
Same story on the bizarre decision to launch healthcare.gov on October 1 even though it was obviously not ready.
As early as March 14, Henry Chao, the Chief Deputy Information Officer at CMS - the tech lead on the project - said: “The time for debating about the size of text on the screen or the color or is it a world-class user experience, that’s what we used to talk about two years ago... Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”
A month later, even that modest ambition was already in doubt. April 17, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and one of the law’s chief architects, Max Baucus, famously said to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.”
He wasn’t the only one who saw it. By July it was widely reported the exchanges were in serious trouble. The Obama administration had given up on verifying subsidy eligibility and announced subsidies would instead be handed out on the “honor system.” It was a massive red flag for anyone paying attention.
Every significant conservative group saw what was coming, joining an August 6 letter urging a one-year delay because: “With the clock ticking to open enrollment on October 1, it is abundantly clear to members of the Repeal Coalition that the structure at the heart of PPACA is simply not ready.”
Just days before the launch, healthcare.gov failed a test with just a few hundred concurrent users. And yet the launch moved forward. And Sebelius claims Obama was never aware of a problem until days after the launch.
So imagine my surprise when this alert hit my email inbox: “Obama Unaware as U.S. Spied on World Leaders.”
A massive international scandal with the potential to cause a long-term rift with several of our key allies and undermine efforts to keep the Internet under U.S. as opposed to U.N. control, and we - and our allies - are supposed to believe it occurred entirely without the president’s knowledge.
The leader of the free world is always the last to know. The president, as usual, knows nothing.
Either President Obama serially denies knowledge of his own actions in a cynical attempt to dodge responsibility, or he’s perhaps the most clueless inhabitant of the Oval Office in history. I’m not sure which possibility is more frightening.
Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of “Democracy Denied.” Kerpen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.