SALT LAKE CITY, May 17, 2013—Accountability is the watchword of President Obama, who loves to talk about it but seems confused about its meaning.
Regarding the developing IRS scandal, in which the federal taxing agency improperly targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, Obama expressed “outrage” several times. He added that those responsible “have to be held fully accountable.”
If he is consistent with his understanding of the word accountability, then nobody at the IRS should have much to worry about.
The president, much like other politicians but to a greater degree, thinks accountability amounts to nothing more than verbal demands for accountability. It is similar to his penchant for taking responsibility by verbally asserting that he takes responsibility.
There is nothing more to it. A simple declaration forgives all sins.
Best-selling author Eric Metaxas’s new book, Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness, is partly in response to what he calls a “crisis of manhood in the culture.”
Honor, valor, and duty are values and virtues, Metaxas asserts, that have been forgotten by our political class. To accept responsibility in a meaningful way would require giving something up.
Sacrifice is something about which Barack Obama knows little.
On Monday the president declared that he “first learned about [the IRS scandal] from the same news reports that I think most of you learned about it.”
Putting aside the difficulty in believing that the chief executive, the man with power to fire and hire IRS officials, knew nothing of the Inspector General’s report, it is hard to take him seriously at all on the matter because of his manufactured outrage.
“If the IRS engaged in the practices that have been reported on…then that’s outrageous,” he proclaimed. That’s a big if. It’s also one that the IRS has conceded. So President Obama claims he heard about the scandal from the news reports, but he didn’t even read the reports that laid out the basic fact of the scandal: that the IRS engaged in the practices that were illegal and unethical.
Nevertheless, if anybody did anything wrong, “they have to be held fully accountable.”
Doesn’t that go without saying?
Of course the acting IRS commissioner, Steve Miller, has resigned. Two weeks before his retirement, and effective not-so-immediately. There’s your accountability.
This is nothing new. The same pattern played out months earlier, when the Benghazi affair erupted into scandal. The president at the time expressed outrage. When it came up during his debate with Mitt Romney, he took responsibility. He held himself accountable.
At least by Obama standards.
“I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks,” he said.
There you go. Four American died during a foreign affairs fiasco—one which may have been preventable, to a large degree—and the president claimed responsibility.
That was a day after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the same debacle.
Would that it were that easy for the rest of us. If every time anyone made a mistake—committed a crime, lost money in a bad investment, offended a loved one—all he had had to do was say, “I take responsibility,” and everything would go back to as before.
In the president’s world he deserves extra accommodations.
“If I did anything wrong…hold me accountable.”
Just don’t expect him to do anything inconvenient.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
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