Today’s meme: Obama’s too passive and disinterested to have had a direct role in these scandals

posted at 11:21 am on May 15, 2013 by Allahpundit

I had the same thought as Matt Lewis when reading through the news this morning. There’s too much smoke now from the IRS, DOJ/AP, and Benghazi scandals to pretend there’s no fire. If you’re sympathetic to O, it’s time to shift messages from “what fire?” to “Obama should have done more to put out these fires set by other people,” which conveniently leaves Bambi in the virtuous role of firefighter. It’s a classic plea bargain: He’s guilty of negligence, maybe, but of nothing more serious. Lewis:

The media is helping. Obama isn’t a bad guy, he’s merely out of the loop, we’re told. He is “President Passerby,” as Dana Milbank calls him. And besides, as David Axlerod said this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” government is just so vast that nobody can really know what’s going on (as one of my Twitter followers noted, why didn’t Bush think of that to explain Abu Ghraib away?)…

Being out of the loop doesn’t exonerate him in my mind (though it might in the public’s.) The buck is supposed to stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and it makes little difference to me whether you order — or inspire (and tolerate) — a culture of corruption where “Chicago-style” politics are carried out with a wink and a nod.

But people are more forgiving of a bumbling leader than of a corrupt politician. And staffers and bureaucrats can always be dispatched.

Yes, Axelrod really said that, but let’s save that for another post. Lewis is right that Milbank’s piece on the “passive president” is the big one in this vein this morning, but the meme is popping up elsewhere. Here’s his old pal Gibbsy:

Gibbs said the White House should have immediately proposed a bipartisan panel of former IRS commissioners to investigate, and criticized the administration’s response as “exceedingly passive.”

“I think they would have a much better way of talking about this story rather than simply kind of landing on the, ‘well if this happened, then we’ll look at it’,” Gibbs said. “It sounds exceedingly passive to me.”

Saying that Obama has been passive this week in reacting to the IRS scandal overlooks the fact that, by Carney’s own admission, people in the White House must have been aware that tea-party groups were complaining of unfair treatment last year. Did anyone pick up the phone to inquire, or were they content not to know in case it was true?

More passivity and disinterest from Firefighter Obama at Politico:

Experts and former officials say the White House’s laissez-faire approach to the Justice Department — adopted in part as a response to the politicization there under President George W. Bush — allowed prosecutors’ naturally aggressive tendencies to burst through unchecked…

”This White House, out of concern to distance itself from what was seen as excess politicization of DOJ by the Bush administration, had not engaged DOJ at all on leak cases,” said Columbia University law professor David Pozen, who spent several months conducting a major review of the federal government’s love-hate relationship with national security leaks. ”

In previous White Houses, even those railed publicly against leaks, officials sent “cautionary signals to the Justice Department … urging restraint and sensitivity to political, policy and constitutional concerns,” Pozen said. But the administration’s distancing policy, said Pozen, meant that prosecutors were “being given more leash than they had previously to do what they do.”

That was part of Carney’s defense yesterday vis-a-vis the IRS too. The White House had to maintain “distance” from the agency, he said, in order to eliminate any risk of “politicization,” which stands reality on its head insofar as the IRS was apparently already politicized. Maintaining distance simply enabled it. If this is seriously their defense to malfeasance in the executive branch, that they can’t meddle to try to stop it for fear of somehow tainting the malfeasor with politics, then there’s really no limit to what their underlings can get away with. And if that’s the case, that they’re deliberately keeping their distance from bad actors below them, then what’s the difference between “passivity” or “disinterest” and intentionally looking the other way? The cornerstone of Obama’s public persona since day one has been his “above the fray” adult-in-the-room shtick; almost without fail, if there’s an attack to be launched on his ideological opponents, it’s tasked to some surrogate in order to keep O’s hands clean. That’s not “passivity,” it’s a deliberate strategy to inoculate himself from “politics as usual” in order to protect his brand as some sort of genteel, post-partisan non-politician. So why give him the benefit of the doubt now? If he really didn’t know all of this was going on, why not assume that that’s because his staff is instructed to keep stuff like this away from him? And if that’s true, what’s the difference between “negligence” and intent?

Here’s Chris Matthews lamenting that Obama doesn’t seem to have his hands on the wheel of the ship of state. That’s fine; the important question is why. Is it because, as the press so often claimed about Bush, he’s “incurious” about what his underlings are doing? Or is it because the people steering know what direction he wants to go in?

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Maybe he’s truly insane. There are lots of signs.

scalleywag on May 15, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Has it been said yet; Barky only gets involved when he knows positively there will be a positive reception. He took credit for the death of Bin Laden but that was a gimme, pretty much everything else he has shied away from because the public perception might have been tainted.

Dog Eater isn’t a leader, he’s a windsock.

Bishop on May 15, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Actually, I prefer the NPR meme: Obama’s seeming ventures into realpolitik jeopardize his feel-good, ideological goals of healing the partisan rift.

Axeman on May 15, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Where’s the “Primary Colors” of this administration? It could be interesting.

GWB on May 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM


BobMbx on May 15, 2013 at 1:17 PM

So Obama didn’t know what was going on…he’s disinterested….passive, etc.?

That reeks of the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Why aren’t these Dem leaders holding Obama up to the same standards of every other president? Why aren’t they holding him accountable like past presidents would be (Nixon, etc.)?


visions on May 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

If that is true, the word is INCOMPETENT.

lilium479 on May 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Dog Eater isn’t a leader, he’s a windsock.

Bishop on May 15, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Can he be a windsock puppet? Because I’ve never believed he was actually in charge; he is just a front man.

GWB on May 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Has anyone called Obama PINO yet?

Sir Napsalot on May 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM

As I’ve observed (and previously said), The One doesn’t care about the day-to-day work of his office, but he is definable as OCD on his dogmas and agenda.

Consider his nearly manic reaction when Manchin-Toomey went down, after he had barnstormed the country trying to ram it through. Then look at his emotional investment in O-care. This is a man driven by his delusions and power lust to do anything to get what he wants.

As such, I simply do not believe that large numbers of “underlings” decided, on their own, to begin savaging those he regards as his enemies. Rather, it’s more likely that the orders came down from on high, with The One giving them but not signing his name. This is also the Chicago method;

Identify your enemies. Crush them. But make sure there are no fingerprints.

As for the Valerie Jarrett issue, I’m sure The One is hoping everybody assumes that he is no more than her puppet. Every dictator needs a fall guy (or girl) when it’s time to Take The Last Plane Out.

clear ether


eon on May 15, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Dog Eater isn’t a leader, he’s a windsock.

Bishop on May 15, 2013 at 1:11 PM


NOMOBO on May 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Well if he’s that passive and disinterested, he won’t mind if he’s escorted out the door – we can tell him he’s going out for ice cream.

ghostwalker1 on May 15, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Obama himself is a lazy slug, but he is the frontman for a cabal of leftist ideologues, who have been working for the last forty years to take this country over and transform it into what they see as a socialist worker’s paradise.

claudius on May 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Finally, a defense of Obama I can agree with. He is too lazy and incompetent to be at fault.

that makes perfect sense.

Monkeytoe on May 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Had the Bin Laden raid gone horribly wrong and Bin Laden got away and all the Seals were killed…do you honestly believe at this point…that the President would have known anything about the raid or taken any responsibilty?

cmarceron on May 15, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Honestly I’m not sure Obama has the intelligences and skills to put all this together? Could there be a larger more sinister group like the Party inner bosses that are really doing this? Who are they?
Is Congress being told to keep the boarders porous to keep a steady supply of Cheap labor?
Dose Congress rally want to control drug use because some one else is making money?
Does Congress really want a Budget so that no one can see the endless money holes that have been created (DHS Bagpipes noncompetitive bid to a minority owned defense contractor)?

jpcpt03 on May 15, 2013 at 2:42 PM

presNitWit Petey knows nuthin, sees nuthin,. hears nuthin when the gpoin gets rough, but when there’s praises to be had he is front and center with his stupid grin and hand out!
This is the “Cousin Eddie Presdent”!

ConcealedKerry on May 15, 2013 at 2:46 PM

It is funny that all this cr*p came down JUST after Obama went after Limbaugh.

Maybe someone IS protecting us, after all.

Jabberwock on May 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM

But after his reelection?

slickwillie2001 on May 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

‘too passive and disinterested’

Sounds unqualified for the position.

socalcon on May 15, 2013 at 4:03 PM

By TOM RAUM | Associated Press – Mon, Dec 10, 2012

President Barack Obama is trying to spend what former President George W. Bush called “political capital.”

That’s the good will and clout you get from a re-election victory.

yeeeeepp, pretty much flushed that capital down the commode.

Wonder if they’ve got Mr Raum’s phone records?

socalcon on May 15, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I don’t know why anyone would be surprised that Obama is a “Know Nothing” president. He has spent his whole life knowing nothing and doing little except campaigning and self-promotion.

This is the guy who floated through Columbia University without leaving a mark. This is the guy who got elected president of the Harvard Law Review without publishing anything. This is the guy who voted “present” over and over again as a state senator.

This is the guy who sat in a pew at Trinity United every week for twenty years but never heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright say anything controversial. This is the guy who didn’t know that Tony Rezko was a crook or that his own constituents were freezing in Rezko’s unheated slums. This is the guy who didn’t know that Bill Ayers was an unrepentant terrorist.

This is the guy who as a US senator spent all his time running for president. This is the guy who didn’t know about any of the nasty things his campaign was doing. This is the guy who every time the shit hits the fan claims he didn’t know and wasn’t involved.

Why would anyone expect him to change now?

myiq2xu on May 15, 2013 at 11:25 AM

i love this comment. this “i didn’t know” routine happens over and over. it it almost hilarious! almost…

Sachiko on May 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I kinda believe that he’s AWOL on just about everything. All he does is party and travel. And his incompetence is world renowned. But then, it totally screws up his Obamacare assertions that the gov can handle 1/6 of the country’s economy…or that the gov is a successful venture capitalist for his BFF’s. explanation tanks the other. Priceless.

buffyvs on May 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM

He’s not a bad guy but he’s so far in over his head he doesn’t understand life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When someone interviewed four hundred classmates from the class he says he graduated from no one could recall him in any of their classes, never saw him or attended any of the classes he claims he taught. Upon occupying the highest office in the land he immediately seals his past and the White House controlled media covers for him. He embarrasses the office world wide, lies through his teeth and is shocked that there are people that do not agree with the way he conducts himself and his agenda. This narcissistic fraud is a spoiled brat in politicians clothes. What we need to do is pay strict attention to the organization that’s pulling obama’s strings.

mixplix on May 15, 2013 at 7:53 PM

He professes to know what’s good for the American people, but denies knowing what goes on in the organizations he runs.

Oddly what does go on echoes Chicago ward politics, reward your friends and punish your enemies. The whole immigration issue is simply a variation on dead people voting.

Who knew? All I know is what I read in the papers? Hey, it was meant to be a joke when Will Rogers said it.

Limpet6 on May 16, 2013 at 8:57 AM