January 25, 2021

It’s Time to Own Up!

Posted on 13. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Today, President Obama signed an executive order banning government ‘giveaway’ items like notepads, special pens, coffee mugs, etc. that Departments have customarily used at conferences and other official gatherings. I don’t object to this specific EO because it spotlights the drip, drip, drip of ‘budget creep’ that is an integral part of Federal Washington, evidenced by the now famous $16 muffins.

A reduction of USG travel is also a part of the new EO. I hope that one of the consequences of this action will be the President staying home with his wife and family a bit more AND leaving Air force One in the hangar and the phalanx of black SUVs in the garage. I’m sure he could also find some work to do once somebody shows him where his office is. (OK, I admit that was unkind, but maybe warranted given all the politicking the President has done in the past few months.)

During the signing ceremony, the President reiterated his mantra of blaming our current financial crisis on other people and inanimate objects. His words “…I suppose this is, (because of) the deficits we’ve inherited and those that have grown as a consequence of the recession…” are remarkable for what they don’t say.

The right response might have been some variation on the following theme: “Admittedly, this is a small step to reduce government spending and our burgeoning deficit, part of which I inherited from the previous administration and part of which I made worse by my policies, aided by a partisan Congress.” Good luck on getting that one at the press briefing.

Congratulations go to the word-spinners at the White House who have succeeded in creating a language that enables the President to absolve himself, his advisers and his Party of any blame for anything that has been done since January 20, 2009.

It is truly a remarkable language, and it has been adopted by Cabinet Secretaries as well. It was observed at Congressional Hearings yesterday where Attorney General, Eric Holder was on the hot seat. While Holder was being questioned about his role in the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-walking debacle, Sen. John Cornyn asked the AG if he had contacted the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Holder looked surprised at the question and said, “no.”

Then, he was asked if he had apologized for the death of Agent Terry or would like to now. Rising to the occasion, Holder adopted the newspeak of responsibility avoidance and ducked the question by saying that he “regretted” Terry’s death.

This is a sterling example of the non-apology apology that has become so popular: “If I have offended anyone with this statement or actions, I regret it.” While these weasel-worded statements may protect people from responsibility, culpability or civil suits, they are simply cowardly.

Americans want their government populated by people with moral courage and conviction, individuals who can answer questions in short declarative sentences. What they don’t want is a bunch of mealy-mouthed bureaucrat lawyers whose specialty is truth avoidance.

I would bet my prized copy of William Safire’s ‘Political Dictionary’ that the current crew of politicos in DC were pretty good at getting out of jams as teenagers. I’m sure that more than a couple of them used these two: “My dog ate my homework” and “The tree came out of nowhere and struck the car, Dad.”

After three years of obfuscation and the verbal two-step around the truth, many of us are hungry for accountability. Unfortunately, there is another group of us that has been desensitized to the truth having embraced the version that passes for it these days. The coming Presidential contest will test our patience and our alertness. We must stay awake and be critical of what we hear…from all sides of the podium.

- Editor

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