by Whitney Pitcher
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama was asked to compare his experience to that of Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin. Obama made a disingenuous comparison by only referencing Palin’s mayoral experience, but he also tried to bolster his executive credentials by referencing his ability to manage “large systems” and millions of dollars in campaign funds:
It is now nearly five years later, and little has changed. The President’s executive experience still lies in running a campaign, but not one that comes at the expense of his donors (and actually often to his donors’ benefit) . He has turned his executive branch cabinet level departments into components of this perpetual campaign at the expense of American taxpayers.
President Obama ‘s Treasury Department has turned into a campaign opposition research department by targeting Tea Parties, religious groups, and pro-life groups and combing through every detail of these groups and their memberships. When this department got their hands caught in the cookie jar, the President scapegoated the already lame duck IRS commissioner who wasn’t even in the role of commissioner when these targeted audits were being performed. His Department of Justice has also contributed to this effort by bugging the cloak room in the House of Representatives and seizing phone records of AP reporters who cover the GOP majority House. His elected colleagues, his constituents, and even his pals in the media became his political opponents.
During his campaign, the President would often offer a special opportunity for a donor to meet him. As President, he has done the same kind of thing, but on a much larger scale and at the expense of the American taxpayer and the American energy consumer. Instead of offering an expenses paid meeting, he is offering millions in taxpayer dollars and special favors. 80% of his Department of Energy stimulus loans went to companies tied to his donors. Meanwhile, the President has stalled on the development of Keystone Pipeline. Several of his donors stand to benefit financially from the Canadian Sands Oil regardless of whether or not the pipeline is built, and just last week, scores of the President’s donors are sent a letter petitioning him to not build the pipeline. Moreover, the President is not only trying to turn return the favor to his actual political donors, his Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is essentially acting as a fundraiser to promote the President’s healthcare policy agenda. The President is repaying his donors with political favors and asking political favors to implement his policies.
Throughout the President’s perpetual campaign, he has tried to redistribute the blame of the burgeoning scandals. Rather than being a leader and taking responsibility, he has allowed his politically driven administration to trickle down the blame. Four rogue IRS employees are being blamed for the targeted Tea Party audits, yet IRS employees are claiming they were only following orders. In trying to make sense of the attacks on the Libyan consulate last September, the Obama administration–the White House, the State Department, and the CIA– has woven a complicated web of blame and responsibility in the midst of a presidential campaign.
When it comes to the President’s campaign claim of being able to manage “large systems”, it seems Obama has been disproved by his own former campaign adviser David Axelrod. In trying to defend the President’s ability to deal with multiple, simultaneous scandals, Axelrod inadvertently made the case for smaller government when he said that there is only so much a President can know “because the government is so vast”. The President has proven that when executive experience is manifested in a hybrid of small leadership and big government, it only perpetuates a campaign cycle that trickles down the blame.