Thursday, October 2, 2014
- by Rep. Scott DesJarlais
As Commander-In-Chief, President Obama is entrusted to lead our nation with nothing less than his complete attention and full dedication.
Managing the federal government is without a doubt a herculean task and even the best presidents are bound to make a mistake from time to time. However, good leaders are defined by how they respond to their mistakes.
Harry Truman once famously stated that when it comes to the president "the buck stops here." That means when a problem arises with the federal government, it is the president’s responsibility to own up to it and articulate a solution to the American people.
Unfortunately, President Obama has often chosen to do the exact opposite.
Rather than take responsibility for his administration’s shortcomings, he has engaged in a seemingly perpetual blame game that has left the American people disheartened and questioning the competency of their government.
Indeed, it is difficult to recall an instance where President Obama faced a difficult situation regarding his administration and not tried to conjure up scapegoats in an effort to deflect blame and turn the attention away from the oval office.
Recently, we saw an example of this when the president blamed our intelligence community for his administration’s underestimation of the terrorist group ISIS. However, it was reported that senior intelligence officials had directly briefed the White House on the very real threat ISIS posed, with one stating that the CIA “did provide warning of the intent to strike” and another stating that policy makers “should have known.” The president’s top responsibility is our national defense. Shirking that duty by blaming others sends a troubling message to those around the world who seek to do us harm, not to mention to our allies who look to the president as a source of strength during global turmoil.
Another example of the president’s constant blame game can be seen in the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups. Despite indisputable evidence showing otherwise, the White House attempted to blame a few “rogue agents” in Ohio of committing these acts. Of course our investigation in the House Oversight Committee went on to show that the decision to target these groups was made by high-level Obama political appointees in Washington. Yet instead of launching a good faith effort to investigate those who broke the law and hold them accountable for their actions, the president chose to simply disregard the issue by calling it a “phony scandal.”
And when the president can’t find anyone else to blame, he simply claims he was completely unaware of the problem.
We all remember how the president stated that he was not informed directly that the website for Obamacare – his signature accomplishment – was failing even the most basic tests when preparing for its rollout. Or how he alleged that his administration found out about the misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs only after it was reported in the news.
Again, all this sends a troubling message; either the president is totally disengaged from running the federal government or he has lost the respect of those who report to him. Neither answer is a good one.
Our nation undoubtedly faces some monumental challenges both domestically and around the world. Leading from behind might make for good political strategy, but it certainly was not an approach embraced by the men and women who forged this country into a “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” We don’t expect our presidents to be perfect, but we expect them to take responsibility for their actions – especially during times of trial and tribulation.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais