The Phony Scandal Presidency

Rep. Darrell Issa Congressman, California 49th District
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Military leaders are taught to take ownership of a situation and that they are accountable for their decisions as well as the actions of those under their command — no matter the burden or mission. President Harry Truman famously summed up this fundamental tenet of leadership: “The buck stops here.”

President Obama has taken a different approach when things go wrong, consistently avoiding responsibility, blaming a predecessor, or claiming critics are manufacturing “phony scandals.”

From Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning into Mexico, NSA snooping on law abiding Americans, the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, his administration’s false narratives on Benghazi, and the IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs, if it wasn’t his predecessor President Bush’s fault, it must be an isolated government bureaucrat gone rogue or a partisan attack from Republicans. But whatever it is, neither he nor anyone in his administration knew about it or were involved in it, and they certainly aren’t responsible for it.

The American people are weary of the president’s prevaricating, and the downward spiral of world events is exposing the flaws of a lazy and disengaged foreign policy that sees the U.S. pulling back from its guiding role in world affairs.

Is it a phony scandal that Obama’s weak posture and reassuring platitudes emboldened Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin to foment unrest, annex Crimea and reignite the Cold War? The recent murder of the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amidst a Russian backed insurgency has brought the crisis in Ukraine back into focus.

Obama mocked Governor Romney for warning of the looming geopolitical threat posed by Russia during a debate in 2012, quipping “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” If only we were so lucky. His “reset” policy has led to the rekindling of tensions and the reemergence of the Russian bear and placed post-Cold War democracies in peril.

Is it a phony scandal that as Hamas rockets rein down on the people of Israel, they have reason to question whether America’s leader has their back? Middle East stability is in question, from the “red line” use of chemical weapons in Syria, to the killing of an Ambassador in Libya, to ISIS invading Iraq, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb, and now conflict in Gaza. The president has overseen the worst Middle East policy in recent memory.

These significant world events call for strong and steady leadership. Obama has been noticeably absent as his “lead from behind” mentality puts more faith in the collective decision making power of countries like France and Pakistan than in the United States.

This is the picture of the world stage where America has abdicated the leading role. We are facing the consequences of President Obama’s vision of diminished U.S. influence abroad.

If President Obama believes that America should have a smaller global role, he takes the opposite view when it comes to domestic policy. Upset that Congress will not blindly enact his legislative priorities, he has turned to executive orders.

In 2012, through executive fiat, President Obama granted legal status to thousands of illegal alien minors and he has promised further review and action on his own. This past act, and the hope of more, has contributed to the crisis unfolding along our southern border.

Is it a phony scandal that 60,000 minor children have made a perilous 2,000 mile trek, often unaccompanied, to reach the United States? They are fleeing to us believing they will be allowed to stay. Unlawful executive actions have encouraged families to place their children in danger with the hope of amnesty. And, in response, the President has asked for more money.

Money will not stop the kids’ dangerous trek, leadership and decisive action will. The same is true for Russia’s bullying, and the widespread conflict in the Middle East.

With world crises reaching new heights, many Americans are questioning the president’s excuses and lead-from-behind strategy. It is time our Commander-in-Chief took ownership of his office and faced up to the consequences of his failure to lead.