With three scandals colliding at the same time, the burning question at the heart of them all is — who is in charge? If you ask the White House, the answer is simple: not them.
On Benghazi, which claimed the lives of four brave Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, it is clear that the information put out by the White House following the attack was flawed, to say the least. When asked why the initial information put out by the White House was so wrong, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly asserted that it was the best estimate of the intelligence community
November 28, 2012, White House Press Briefing:
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best estimate of what they thought had happened.”
May 10, 2013, White House Press Briefing:
“What I was saying was based on the points that the CIA had provided.”
May 15, 2013, White House Press Briefing:
“It is absolutely true that that assessment turned out to be wrong. What is also true is what we have maintained from the beginning, that that assessment was made by and drafted by the CIA, the intelligence community.”
On the IRS’s targeting of conservative political groups, ask President Obama and he’ll tell you that he learned about it the same way the rest of America did, through the press.
Nevermind that CNN has reported that IRS leadership knew of the targeting of conservative groups as early as May 2012 or that conservative groups had complained of such treatment in the run up to the 2012 election. And the White House’s explanation for being in the dark: this was an internal IRS matter that was the subject of an internal investigation. In other words, not their problem.
On the DOJ’s expansive subpoenaing of the Associated Press’ phone records, the White House says talk to the Department of Justice. So Congress did. It called Attorney General Holder up for a committee hearing. Holder’s response? Talk to my deputy. Holder testified that he recused himself from the AP matter and so he had no answers for Congress.
While political hay can and has been made of each of these three scandals, the one common thread running through the White House’s response to each is this: don’t look at us. Which begs the question – who is running the country? The President is the head of our government. The intelligence community, the IRS and the DOJ all report to the President.
President Harry Truman once coined the great cliche “the buck stops here.” Were the White House asked where the buck stops in this administration, I can only imagine their response: Buck? What buck?
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