Whenever something really big goes badly wrong in government, the first defense of whoever is in charge is "I knew nothing about it!" This phenomenon isn't new, and it isn't confined to Democrats: even Ronald Reagan had recourse to a variant in the Iran-contra affair:
A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.
That was one scandal, once. The Clintons got away with this defense one time in the Whitewater affair, where Hillary had no idea where the Rose Law Firm records had been hiding before they magically appeared next to her private office in the White House residence. Even Slick Willie knew he couldn't get away with that a second time. No, he just plain had to lie about his sordid relationship with Monica Lewinsky and hope for the best.
What, then, are we to make of Barack Obama's serial ignorance? None other than the far-left administration shill Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has had enough:
It stretches credulity to think that the United States was spying on world leaders without the president’s knowledge, or that he was blissfully unaware of huge technical problems that threatened to undermine his main legislative achievement. But on issues including the IRS targeting flap and the Justice Department’s use of subpoenas against reporters, White House officials have frequently given a variation on this theme.
Question: What did Obama know and when did he know it?
Answer: Not much, and about a minute ago.
Mr. Obama has used the Sergeant Schultz defense ("I know nuttink!") so many times that even his supposedly sworn Republican enemies can't keep track of them all. This week, they ridiculed him for not knowing the NSA was tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel's phone and not knowing that the Obamacare website was a hopelessly dysfunctional mess until he saw it on the news but they didn't get around to mentioning:
Any CEO who allowed this many newsworthy incompetencies to occur on his watch would have been booted out long ago. Yes, in the legal sense, Mr. Obama may not be directly responsible for these failures. Also, there's certainly no secret recording in which he commands that the Benghazi embassy staff be left to die, or ordering guns to be given to Mexican psychopaths.
Once upon a time, though, leaders of organizations large and small felt a moral responsibility to make sure bad things didn't happen below them: they recognized that not knowing about evildoing was no defense, because as the Big Cheese, it's their job to know enough about what's going on to prevent evil in the first place. Maybe the leader needs to pick more ethical and competent department heads, maybe he needs to give more all-hands speeches promoting an ethical culture, maybe he just needs to be more curious about the reports passing across his desk, maybe he needs to go out and see what's being done.
Whatever: if you're the guy wearing the crown, everything is your responsibility. Without that fundamental rule of high office, we get Enron.
Of course, nobody in the media would compare Barack Obama with Kenneth Lay, and the federal government is several orders of magnitude larger than Enron at its peak. What's more, unlike Mr. Lay or any other CEO in the world, the President doesn't have the power to fire anyone other than a handful of political appointees at the very top. So it's unreasonable to hold him to the same standard that the law does for corporate executives.
Instead, the almighty all-encompassing ignorance of Barack Obama, known to all and sundry as the most brilliant man ever to grace the Oval Office, proves one truth with crystal clarity: If he can't do the job... nobody can.
Therefore, if not even he can do it, we need to change the job. Keeping the Federal government on the straight and narrow is just too big and complex a job for any one man no matter how well endowed. That's because the Federal government is just too darn big: out of simple common fairness, we must immediately move to cut it down to a more manageable size.
The New York Times, of all things, came perilously close to making the same realization:
Harry S. Truman spoke for many of his successors when he said that “the pressures and complexities of the presidency have grown to a state where they are almost too much for one man to endure.” And that was decades before metadata technology came along.
Since the past few weeks' revelations show that even the 17% shrinkage of the misnamed "shutdown" left the government too big to manage, clearly the cut needs to be far more than that. A good place to start would be with a balanced budget: we're borrowing about 1/3 of what we spend. If we stopped doing that and lived within our means, the government would automatically be 30% smaller. Maybe Mr. Obama could handle a government of that much-reduced size.
And if not? Then we need to whack it again, and again, until he's able to adequately administer what's going on in his own bureaucracy - or at least be aware of it.
When Ronald Reagan pled absentmindedness and forgetfulness in the Iran-contra affair, we now know he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. What's Mr. Obama's excuse?
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.