Is anyone minding the store down in Washington? Anyone at all?
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that President Barack Obama first learned of the enormous scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs — administrative misconduct that reportedly resulted in the deaths of at least 40 veterans — from media reports. Sounds familiar.
The White House has also said that the President learned about the IRS scandal, the Department of Justice accessing Associated Press phone records, and the Fast and Furious scandal from media reports. Apparently the President watches the news more closely than he watches those within his administration.
This would be an embarrassment if these scandals did not involve gross abuses of government power and the deaths of numerous people because of the administration’s incompetence and mismanagement. But this is more than an embarrassment.
It is inexcusable.
The President is the CEO of the federal government. Article II of the Constitution, which governs the presidency, has four sections. Two of them deal with presidential powers, which are few. They involve commanding the military during wartime, negotiating treaties and dealing with foreign powers, making appointments and nominations, and running the executive branch.
President Obama’s favorite pastime, traveling the country giving speeches to adoring crowds, is not among his constitutional duties. Faithfully executing the laws is. Long wait times at VA hospitals were an issue during George W. Bush’s administration, and Obama campaigned on fixing the problem. Bush officials briefed Obama on it after the election. In office, he found other things to do.
Presidents make choices, and this one has chosen to spend his time campaigning, speaking, appearing on TV, and otherwise being a celebrity rather than actually managing the administration he was elected to run. As he ignored his duties, veterans died. There is no defense for this.