The Corner

Who Will Vet the Vetters?

Obama the other day — in reaction to the firestorm over the background disclosures about DC insider James Johnson who was one of his VP nominating vetters — complained of the scrutiny, “I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters.”

Precisely.

I think he was paraphrasing Juvenal’s famous line “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who will police the police themselves?). But whereas Obama was suggesting that the paradox might be pointless and unending, Juvenal was making a different, moral point — not the silliness of nagging critics wanting to watch the watchmen, but the dilemma in a corrupt age of finding any moral censor one can trust. I think Obama is one of the first public figures I can remember who used the sentiment in exactly the opposite way it was intended — that we are too hypercritical of, rather than too trusting in, our guardians.

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