The Corner

Who’s In Charge?

That’s one of the questions that needs to be asked at the president’s press conference tomorrow.

During the Eighties, the press and bien-pensants derided Reagan as an amiable dunce detached from the day-to-day administration of his presidency. Years later, that caricature was shown to be profoundly inaccurate.

But if one takes even a charitable view of the events of the last few days, they suggest the current president is disturbingly disengaged from some of the most significant facets of his job. If the administration’s spokesmen are to be believed, the president was completely in the dark about an FBI investigation involving the director of the CIA, an investigation with potential national-security implications. He supposedly was in the dark despite the fact that the attorney general was aware of the investigation for months.

For several weeks, the president also was (supposedly) in the dark about the nature of the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, telling the world that the cause of the attack was a YouTube video. Despite the vast resources of the most lavishly financed intelligence apparatus in the history of the world, the commander-in-chief was so ignorant of what had transpired on September 11 that he purchased air time on foreign television to dissociate America from an obscure Internet video.

The president’s disengagement, however, isn’t a recent phenomenon. He outsourced the restructuring of one-sixth of the U.S. economy to Nancy Pelosi and a brigade of congressional staffers, not bothering himself with something as mundane as reordering the relationship between citizen and state. He spent more than $800 billion on shovel-ready jobs, but can’t account for the whereabouts of either the money or the jobs. He can’t tell a late-night comedian the size of the national debt — not even to within a mere trillion dollars. He created a Jobs Council in the midst of four years of 8 percent unemployment, but hasn’t met with that council since the beginning of the year. He was (purportedly) oblivious to the fact that under a U.S. government program, thousands of weapons were being run to Mexican drug cartels without the Mexican government being notified. He professes that his administration is opening up oil leases and energy exploration all across the land, ostensibly oblivious to the fact that his EPA and Department of Interior are strangling coal producers and energy exploration on an unprecedented scale.

The list goes on. Not every item on the list is evidence of a troubling presidential disengagement from serious policy concerns. But those items that don’t suggest disengagement point to incompetency. And those that don’t point to incompetency suggest dishonesty.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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