What Didn’t the President Know and When Didn’t He Know It?

by Pitt Griffin on October 29, 2013 · 0 comments

in Healthcare, Politics

The NSA assures us that the President did not know that the NSA was spying on foreign heads of state. The Administration assures us that the President did not know that the IRS was targeting political groups to review their tax exempt status. Katherine Sebelius, head of HHS, assures us that the President did not know that the health-care website was a joke.

I suspect that does not reassure most Americans.

It smacks of the “CEO defense”. The defense used when a company is behaving badly, and the CEO denies any knowledge of wrong-doing, preferring to appear incompetent rather than complicit.

It may be that the President did not know what was going on. That is no excuse. Great executives establish a culture of doing things right. Second-rate executives do not. The President comes across as more interested in deniability than rolling his sleeves up and running an efficient administration.

In some ways not so different.

In some ways not so different.

He is an engaged campaigner but seemingly uninterested in the details of governing. He is glad to give a great speech, but talking to people is a distraction. In that way, he is reminiscent of another President he frequently alludes to – Ronald Reagan.

(It would be interesting to compare the two men – each with a glib superficial charm, but both intensely private with few close friends. Both supposedly unaware of bad stuff going on in their administration. And both with complete faith in, and reliance on, their wives. But that comparison is for another post).

Now many consumers of health insurance in the “direct market” are discovering that the President’s promise that they could keep their existing health insurance policy was largely wrong. Insiders knew this three years ago. Did the President? If he did not why didn’t he?

The administration is a large endeavor, with over 2.65 million civilian employees. (Which it should be noted is a smaller percent of the population than under any other President in the last 50 years). They will not all behave well – regardless of who is the boss. The President cannot be held responsible for every foible.

However, on issues with national consequences, such as security and universal health-care, the President must demand to be informed. Ignorance of what is going on does not increase his stature.

President Obama swore to run the most transparent administration in history. But much as President Bush before him – who swore to restore morality to the presidency after the Clinton escapades – he discarded campaign promises as soon as the campaign ended.

He needs to fire some people and come down off the mountain.

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