FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
They might be giants, or they might be boneheads
During the one thousandth performance of his “Nothing Is My Fault” cross-country tour, President Obama tried to laugh off the VA scandal, the IRS scandal, the crash of ObamaCare, and all the other problems you little citizens keep worrying your pretty little heads about by saying “that whole idea that government is the problem or the enemy is just not true,” but “some federal workers do bone-headed things.”
That’s patently untrue in the specific example he was trying to soft-shoe his way around, the VA scandal. It wasn’t a bunch of goofball low-level employees making silly mistakes. It was an organized conspiracy led by top-level bureaucrats to game the system by falsifying statistics, leaving veterans to die on secret waiting lists while the brass connected fat bonus checks. It wasn’t a mistake.
Neither was the IRS scandal, whose players knew exactly what they were doing. One of the indisputable facts of the scandal, readily apparent from the documents that didn’t get wiped out in mysterious hard drive crashes, is that Tax Exempt Organizations director Lois Lerner and her crew were very well aware of Obama and top congressional Democrats complaining about the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Lerner took it upon herself to become a tax-law vigilante, rounding up a posse of bureaucrats and riding out to battle the menace of political groups conducting activities that should have been forbidden under the terms of their tax exemptions. The point at which Republican and Democrat investigations of the scandal diverge is that the former don’t think it’s a coincidence that all of the groups persecuted by Lerner and her crew were political adversaries of President Obama, or that the original version of their “be on the lookout” lists exclusively targeted conservative groups, until someone at Tax Exempt Orgs realized that looked really bad, and sprinkled in a few “progressive” search terms. It’s also a bone of contention that Lerner’s crusade didn’t actually involve denying inappropriate applications for tax exempt status, but rather delayed them until after the 2012 elections, peppering the groups with intimidating questions along the way.
Even if you’re inclined to believe the most objectionable aspects of the IRS story were somehow coincidental, it absolutely was not the work of a few faceless idiots in a cubicle somewhere, making a dumbass mistake that would alter the destinies of hundreds of grass-roots organizations and their members. But, come to think of it, that was exactly the false story peddled by Lerner and Obama in the early days of the scandal, wasn’t it?
As for the launch of ObamaCare, that wasn’t lunkheaded stupidity, it was negligence and graft. Obama didn’t supervise implementation of his “signature achievement,” and neither did his HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius (although the White House did set aside a remarkable amount of time to discuss “ObamaCare implementation” with IRS officials – a funny coincidence, given how the agency would proceed to persecute Obama’s political enemies with such gusto.) Whistleblowers were ignored, management meetings were a sham, contractors didn’t deliver on their promises, and $600 million was blown on a system that fell apart on launch day, requiring another $300 million in emergency repairs. That wasn’t just a couple of jokers in the IT department making a few mistakes.
The cratering economy isn’t just the work of thick fingers on a few key economic switches, either. The dramatic revisions to first-quarter GDP, which is now sitting at a startling -2.9 percent contraction, appear to be due in part to the “experts” believing White House flapdoodle about how ObamaCare was going to inject vibrant energy into the health care system and lift the economy into growth. That error was a result of ideological blindness, which is different than making silly mistakes.
But to the extent that President Obama is correct in observing that federal workers do bone-headed things, that’s exactly the opposite of the message he’s been feeding us for years. We were told the federal government is morally and intellectually superior, by a wide margin, to both state governments and private industry. Obama was supposed to be the Czar of Czars, the best doctor the medical industry has ever seen, the most brilliant investment banker in Wall Street history, the finest CEO in automotive history. (The GM recall saga is also about deliberate cover-ups, negligence, and the studied blindness of the Obama Administration, not a few boneheads who goofed when putting cars together.)
We were told we had to relinquish huge amounts of economic liberty because we couldn’t be trusted to make our own decisions. The brilliant central planners of Washington could better decide how our energy dollars should be invested, or how health insurance should be managed. They would choose winners and losers for the benefit of society, and the result would not only be more equitable, but on the whole superior to the depredations of the heartless free market. Remember, even in his 2012 re-election campaign, Obama promised us his wise government would bring prosperity, not just reduced inequality in an impoverished nation. Everything was supposed to be both better and more “fair.”
Instead, we got the economic slowdown and grinding unemployment, plus growing “income inequality.” Big Government has failed spectacularly at everything it tried. That’s not unique to the Obama years; it’s just happening on a bigger stage, with more wacky sound effects. And it’s the exact opposite of what Obama’s ideology predicted with absolute confidence, much as the actual behavior of the Earth’s climate systems has been completely different from the computer models upon which global warming theology is based.
To be sure, you’ll find some outstanding people working for the government too, and you’ll find private-sector organizations with their share of boneheads, especially when they get really big… at which point they begin to bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the government, and increasingly an active synthesis with it. But the big difference is that private corporations are accountable for their boneheads. They can’t just send the CEO out to wave off their errors as “phony scandals,” whine about how his competitors refuse to save his bacon, and insinuate that everyone who disagrees with his corporate decisions is motivated by personal hatred for him.
You can flee from hideous state governments, and you can choose not to do business with private corporations that screw up. But you’re forced at gunpoint to live with the federal Leviathan’s mistakes. Not long ago, Obama’s big talking point was that no escape would ever be possible from “the settled law of the land,” no matter how badly it fails. The moral argument for such inescapable power supposes that it’s administered by brilliant people, supervised by responsible overseers, with results that could not possibly be bettered in the absence of iron State control.
Well, I have seen the work of Washington’s titans, and I’m not impressed. But I can’t get a refund, or even stop paying for the shoddiest of their products. And now the Imperial President tells me that instead of my destiny resting in the hands of selfless and nigh-infallible supermen and superwomen, it’s boneheads all the way down.