In a—oh, hell, I’m out of adjectives to describe “This is so ridiculous it makes me want to throw myself into a woodchipper”—move that will transform U.S. culture, the White House has pioneered a new and refreshingly simple way for wrongdoers and law-breakers to take responsibility for their misconduct.
Just say, “I forgot to obey the law. Sorry!” Let’s call it the “Oopsie!” Doctrine.
Yes, this is how the White House bravely owned up to intentionally violating the statute, the National Defense Authorization Act, that requires the Executive Branch to alert Congress of the pending release of prisoners from Guantanamo at least 30 days in advance. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken called Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to officially say that the White House was sorry it failed to alert her, and therefore Congress, in advance of a decision to release five Taliban prisoners from the prison in Guantanamo in exchange for American deserter, and quite possible traitor, Bowe Bergdahl. The Obama Administration is calling this “an oversight.”
That’s right. The White House breaking the law is an oversight. Never mind that the President was well aware of this particular law, having stated that he regarded it as unconstitutional when he signed it. It was an oversight! None of the foreign policy experts and advisors, neither the Secretary of State or Defense or all their little deputies, nor the hoards of lawyers that Defense, State and the White House employ, remembered that there was a little matter of a relatively recent law that had to be followed in cases like this one. They all missed it, had a brain fart, whiffed, were day-dreaming, took their eye off the ball, goofed, tripped up, pulled a boner. It can happen to anyone!
Boy, John Dean must be doing a face-plant right now! The former White House Counsel under Nixon was supposed to be brilliant, yet he never thought of this obvious, clean, risk-free solution to Watergate—just explain that the White House forgot that burglaries and cover-ups were illegal! Problem solved! “Mr. Chairman, President Nixon has authorized me to say that he’s really, really, sorry for all that obstruction of justice stuff. It was an oversight.” Scandal over! Presidency saved!
And Bill Clinton! How could wily old Bill have missed this one? Just explain that, like George Costanza’s mistake when he had sex with the cleaning woman on his office desk, President Clinton never focused on whether it was wrong to use a White House intern as a sex toy, and that lying about it under oath was illegal. It was all an oversight! Take that, Ken Starr!
To be fair, the spin being put on the suddenly rushed trade to free Bergdahl—after five years—is that his health condition was dire, and that justified ignoring the law, not that they did ignore the law, now, since they just forgot to follow it, or that it existed, or something. Anyway, can’t you just violate laws when you think it’s important?
Of course, the President cannot place himself above the laws that other Americans must follow, so the “Oopsie!” Doctrine, which may well stand as Obama’s lasting contribution to the culture—but what a transformative one!—will naturally be available to everyone.
- Park in a “No Parking Zone”? Oopsie! It was an oversight.
- Fail to pay your taxes? Oopsie! Oversight! All is forgiven!
- Shoot your husband for cheating on you? Wait, you can’t do that? Oopsie! Sorry! Oversight!
It works for workplace incompetence too, as indeed this is how it is being used by the White House as well. Wait—did we negotiate with terrorists, in contravention of national policy? Oopsie! Did we send Susan Rice out yet again to lie about what was going on? Oopsie! Did we release a bunch of terrorists who we know might kill people, adding to the deaths of four American soldiers trying to rescue Bergdahl, and the deaths he may well have caused by assisting the enemy? Oopsie!
This principle has to be universal; after all, the President of the United States must be the epitome of lawfulness, trustworthiness and good citizenship. If “Oopsie!” is appropriate for him to use to duck accountability, and obviously it is, since “Oopsie!” pretty much defines his entire inept, botched, incompetent, hypocritical, dishonest, cynical, divisive, feckless, disastrous, bungled presidency, then it is the standard for all citizens to live by.
The fish, after all, rots from the head down.
Facts: The Hill