We all learned in civics class, at least back when schools actually taught about government and our role as citizens in a democratic republic, that President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk reading “the buck stops here.” We also learned that The Chicago Tribune reported on November 3, 1948, that Harry Truman had lost to Thomas Dewey in the presidential election. It is clear from recent events that neither President Obama nor the members of the American media learned a thing from those two legendary bits of history. Obama passes the buck at every turn and the media repeatedly report as fact what they cannot possibly know.
Since the September 11 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, President Obama and his administration have tried to pass the buck on a tragic security failure — first to what Oliver Wendell Holmes might have called a “puny anonymity” who produced a video barely anyone had seen at the time, then to nonexistent rioters in the streets outside the embassy, then to the State Department and finally to the Central Intelligence Agency.
The most recent passing of the buck to the CIA must be particularly galling to former President George W. Bush, who has been repeatedly accused of lying about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when he and everyone else with access to the best available intelligence were told that such weapons existed. Despite that huge intelligence failure, Bush never cast blame for the Iraq invasion on the intelligence agencies. It was his decision, and he stood by it, despite outrageous assertions that he lied so he could take the nation to war.
Obama’s biggest buck-passing has been with respect to the abject failure of his administration to address the economic challenges the nation has faced throughout his nearly four years in office. Bush, as we all know, is responsible and presumably will remain so (along with the wealthy) if the nation is forced to suffer through four more years of Keynesian economics and Obamacare writ large. In a world of victims in need of government help — the community organizing world from which Obama ascended — the buck never stops with the victims or their self-anointed advocates.
Meanwhile the modern American media require instant answers to every question no matter how complicated or obscure. An American ambassador is killed in Benghazi and the 24-hour news outlets must explain how it happened. Their viewers and readers want instant answers.
Never mind that even the people on the ground at the embassy had no idea what happened only minutes or hours earlier, the news outlets immediately began speculating based on conversations with their contacts in government, who in turn began speculating, perhaps along these lines:
“There have been protests in Cairo, Beirut and other Arab cities in apparent reaction to what is said to be an anti-Islamic video made by some yet-to-be-identified American guy. The attack on the Benghazi embassy must be a similar protest gone out of control. That’s our story and we’ll stick to it even if it starts looking like we got it wrong.”