So today is a day to talk about mistakes. Let’s start with the Obama White House. It’s been a week-plus of nothing but mistakes and each day we read about another mistake they made in explaining what mistakes they actually made. Which, in Crisis Management 101, is a mistake itself.
Howard Baker’s Watergate-era question – “what did the president know and when did he know it” – seems to be what they’re tripping up on. But then again, no. This White House is apparently making the claim that since the IRS scandal (where it targeted right wing groups) was only an Inspector General’s report in draft, it was inappropriate to tell the president because, I guess, he might have been inclined to engage and try to do something about how the report was written (I doubt it, but if his staff is stupid enough to think that, maybe he needs a new staff). As Amy Poeller and Seth Green put it so well on Saturday Night Live, “really?”
So, let me get this straight. Iran is planning an attack on Israel, but hasn’t made, to our knowledge a final decision to attack, so we don’t tell the president about the potential?? I know, that’s a silly comparison. But, really?
Is the president not knowing about the IRS’ inappropriate, wrongheaded, unfair and plain stupid targeting of any political group a big deal? In the grand scheme of life, no it isn’t. But it ain’t chopped liver either. Comparisons to Watergate over this one incident aren't fair, but the "scandals" in this White House are piling up and a conspriacy theroist could claim the common thread among them (IRS, targeting journalists, a Cabinet secretary allegedlly strong-arming for donations companies she regulates) is they are going after their "enemies."
And, in my view, if a bunch of the president’s senior staff could be informed, so should he have been. What, do they whisper like eight-year-olds in the halls of the West Wing, “Nah-nah, I know something the president doesn’t know?”
Is it worth spending the next six months investigating, poring over, tearing apart and listening to talking heads on cable television rant about? No, spare me, please, no. But, it is worth thinking about because, if it were me, I would have
told the president. And, ok, let’s say not telling the president was, indeed, the right thing to do. As staff, shouldn’t they at least have been preparing their explanation to the public while they had the time and tried to spare the president some of the embarrassment rather than changing their story daily? I mean, really?