Ethics Quote of the Week: The Washington Post Editorial Board

“…Why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution? From the start, and increasingly in his second term, Mr. Obama has presented entitlement reform as something he would do grudgingly, as a favor to the opposition, when he should be explaining to the American people — and to his party — why it is an urgent national need.”

—–The Washington Post’s editors, in a spot-on editorial splitting the blame for what it correctly calls the “stupid” sequester fight equally between Congressional Republicans and the President, but pointing out the President Obama, because he is President, will be accountable for his failure to lead on the issue.

No way to run a country.

No way to run a country.

Good for the Post. I began a draft of a very similar article, and abandoned it because I have expressed my harsh assessment of President Obama’s leadership style and skills too many times here to be regarded as objective on the topic. There is nothing in the editorial I disagree with. This President’s concept of leadership has been to order the opposition to do what he wants, orchestrate deceitful  PR battles about the horrible consequences that will occur if his edict was not followed, and then to seek partisan advantage by casting all blame on his opponents when his preferred approach was rejected. His acolytes and enablers in the media have allowed him to continue this pattern: to its credit, the Washington Post has been a notable exception, particularly regarding Libya, Syria, and Iran, but also previous budget battles.

President Obama’s handling of the sequester might be his worst leadership botch yet. First he proposed the sequester. He made no effort to make resolving the issue a priority prior to the election, but falsely claimed in the third debate with Mitt Romney that it was not his idea, and that he did not propose it. Later, he stated as a fact, that the sequester would not occur, a commitment that he would not allow it to occur.  After the election, he allowed the sequester can to be kicked down the road again, and promptly ignored it, launching a cynical gun control initiative sparked by the opportunity created by a school massacre, and the difficult illegal immigration reform effort. He sent his Chief of Staff, now Treasury Secretary, out to dissemble on the facts, as documented in the Post by investigative reporter Bob Woodward. As the days ticked down, he took a vacation, and now is hyping the terrors of the looming meat ax budget cuts as shamelessly as the Bush Administration hyped the likelihood of WMD’s in Iraq. (A President who allowed some of the consequences Obama has been warning about to take place would have to be impeached for dereliction of duty.) His position is similar to that of a parent who intentionally gives his child to kidnappers to be held hostage, refuses to negotiate, and claims that he has no responsibility for the child’s fate. As the Post suggests, it does not bode well for his willingness or ability to take serious and politically risky steps to address the debt crisis.

There are bargaining chips all over the table, including immigration and gun control, if there was a leader—a Johnson, a Reagan, a Clinton—with the skills, flexibility, and inclination to use them. I have not seen any indication, in four years, that President Obama is such a leader.

Let’s hope the tough exhortations of a staunch media ally changes that.


Source: Washington Post

Graphic: AARP

16 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: The Washington Post Editorial Board

  1. He may well be remembering that the last time a major financial crisis like this was allowed to lead to major consequences (Clinton v. Gingrich and the shutdown), the legislators got most of the blame. As such, some holding the line plus deft PR moves could either get them to give him everything he wants, or damage the other side so that his allies can regain the House in 2014. Neither Boehner nor any of the other Republican leadership have the “aura” that he has, they know it, and he knows it. This should not come as a surprise, given his brusque pushing aside of the Republicans in 2009 (“I won”) or his refusal to concede anything this year (“Nothing. I get that for free.”) The fact is that when you are holding most if not all of the cards, you are guaranteed to look good no matter what you do, and you have a sizable number of backers who won’t turn on you no matter what, there is very little impetus to do the right thing rather than the thing that will get you what you want. The three Presidents you allude to all could be pretty brusque and even testy when backed into a corner, but all of them grasped that they could be unmade if they pushed too far. In fact arguably Johnson, though he got a lot done, WAS unmade by a lot of the stresses of his own creation, choosing not to run in 1968, and both Reagan and Clinton, who also got a fair amount done, brushed very close with very bad (and deserved) consequences. I am not sure Obama grasps that fully (it is possible to know something intellectually but not really grasp the knowledge or the possible import). Some consequences only matter if you have a soul or a conscience, though, and, meaning no disrespect to the office, I have to say the current President is appearing more and more to be deficient in that regard. No message from the media can fan a spark of conscience into a flame if there is no spark there to begin with. I know those last two sentences are somewhat harsh rhetoric, which you (understandably) are not a fan of, but I think it is merited here.

    • Except that the Republicans DID shut down the government, and had the ability to do so from the start. Clinton didn’t give them a new power to shut it down and then dare them to use it.

      I am no admirer of Bill, Heaven know, but he would never place himself or the nation in this position.

      • True, true, true, true, and I don’t know about the last, but Clinton DID never place himself or the nation in this position (whatever else he may have done), so we’ll go with that as true also. Unfortunately, the accurate parsing you apply above is likely to be lost on the average voter, as the President’s allies and the media will simply lay the blame at the feet of John Boehner and the Republicans and count (not unreasonably so) on them losing the PR battle and getting the blame. Unethical? Absolutely. Masterful politicking and use of the slick PR approach? Also absolutely.

    • I am persuaded that, in fact, there’s not much SCOTUS could have done about Benghazi, or so my foreign service contacts tell me. The post-Benghazi cover-up, however, was despicable.

      But well managed!!!

      • And to those contacts I say bullshit. He could have easily allowed the drone overhead to fire at the mortar crews, and he could have had a QRF there in about 4 hours. If two former SEALs, using only the weapons they could pick up off the ground, could hold off scores of attackers, the 15 guys that make up the first part of a QRF could have owned the entire city with their full combat kit.

        That Authorization to Cross Boarders was not given lays ENTIRELY at the feet of the President. They did not even ATTEMPT to take steps to save those people. Hell, they hadn’t even made efforts to make them safe in the days leading up, even though they had reports of possible violence, and it was the effing anniversary of 9-11.

  2. What angers me is that no one is picking up how the President is trying to intentionally hurt the American people. The examples shown by the media are of moderate cuts that they then claim will “cripple” nationwide government programs. Cutting 10-15 positions will end poultry inspections? Really? Or will you suspend poultry inspections in an infantile pouting session to blackmail people into allowing your plan of infinite spending?

    I have been through real and ‘fake’ emergency budget cuts. The truth is, when 10% of the staff gets cut, not much changes. Everyone works harder and adjustments to offerings get made. The 10% after that is hard, though. Then you have to stop doing some of the things you used to do.

    • Michael R., AH LUFF YEWWW.

      And don’t get me started on the end-of-(fiscal)-year spending orgy that brings every government agency to a screeching halt every September, when the normal daily business of the office takes a back seat to getting all those purchase orders processed by the end of the month!


      • Do’t worry – they’ll do the same thing they’ve done every time. They’ll complain and moan for now, but as soon as the rubber hits the road, they’ll all be in lockstep again. Their petty complaints will be memory-holed like all the others, and King Obama will arise smelling like a rose yet again.

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