Last week was a rough week for the Obama Administration: three scandals under three different departments. All of these fall under the authority of the President of the United States and showcase the hands-off approach of this administration on a variety of issues from foreign policy to tax exemption statuses.
The first is Benghazi. President Obama’s advisers made several claims. They told the media that the U.S. Embassy in Libya did not ask for additional security personnel, the violent motivation came from a video, and that the attack had no link to al Qaeda. They made no reference to a terrorist act. ABC News’s Jonathan Karl reported that the administration ended up “deleting all references to al Qaeda and to the security warnings in Benghazi prior to the attack.”
Why did the President refuse to call it a terrorist attack on several occasions? Why did Secretary Hillary Clinton say that it really “doesn’t matter” if the Administration knew whether the attack occurred from a video or not? Why would they lie about the fact that the U.S. Embassy asked for additional military forces? These are all questions that they must answer.
The second issue is with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS targeted conservative groups that sought tax-exempt statuses with names such as “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” and “9/12 Project.” These groups pushed for education about the U.S. Constitution, criticized government, concerned with issues such as taxes and government spending, and lobbied to “make America a better place to live.” These are political intentions safeguarded by the Constitution.
The Executive cannot use the IRS to limit political activism. The IRS should not be a political entity that gives preference to liberal groups over conservative ones. This is an issue that is very troubling since our government today depends on revenue to pay its debts and a wide variety of public services. Now the public has lost confidence in an institution responsible for delivering public revenue.
Last but not least, the Justice Department wiretapped the phones of Associate Press reporters and editors for two months. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department had the right to wiretap their phones because they reported on a covert CIA operation in Yemen. In fact, Holder called it a “very, very serious leak.” The First Amendment rights are also very, very serious.
The Associate Press’s Executive Director Kathleen Carroll said that she’s never “seen anything like this.” Her reporters are mad because they lost credibility with their own sources. Journalists fear the fact that it’s still unknown, “whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas,” according to The Associated Press.
President Obama should be held responsible on all of these issues. These are significant scandals that Congress must further investigate and determine whether or not the President knew of any of these issues.
What’s clear is that these events will further American government skepticism. Those who were already against Obama will be against the President even more, and those who were on the fence, will lean against the White House. There are reports already that show that Democrats are even questioning the doings of the White House.
Even Congressman Rangel spoke out on the issue of the wiretapping. He said, “I don’t think anyone truly believes that the president has given us a sufficient answer for America, much less the press.” Rangel is the most inappropriate critic on these affairs. The congressman was convicted for unethical behavior – in fact, 11 charges. When you have him questioning the President of the United States, that’s when you know that you’ve done something wrong.
These scandals will also unfortunately prevent any kind of bipartisanship. Many Republicans will not want to work with a president that oversees all of these departments and allowed such scandals to happen. In the same vain, Democrats would not want to associate themselves with a president that the public mistrusts. It’s a two-way street.
President Obama needs to take action. He needs to get rid of his “leading from behind” mindset, as Joe Scarborough put it. He needs to start firing officials and disclose any kind of information to the public to establish trust with the American people. He needs to hold people accountable for their actions. He needs to fix his administration.
Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz