More than a month after the terrorist attack in Libya that took the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told CNN that she’s responsible for the security failures in the run up to the attack.
Apparently in the Obama administration, the buck stops with Hillary.
[I]n 2008, then Senator Clinton criticized then Senator Obama during the Democratic primary seizing on comments Obama had made about being a President who would inspire and provide a vision for the country and not make sure “everything’s running on time.”
“Being President means being both CEO and COO of one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world,” Clinton said.
“I know that we can get on top of this, but it’s going to require strong presidential leadership — it’s going to require a President who knows from day one you have to run a government and manage the economy,” Hillary Clinton added, using the flailing economy to hit Obama. “The buck stops in the Oval Office.”
Then Senator Obama’s team hit back at Clinton’s criticism comments made her sound like she was running for chief manager — not commander in chief.
“The truth is that we’re not running for chief of staff. We’re running for President of the United States,” David Axelrod said, adding the President’s role was to “provide direction and leadership.”
“I think sometimes there’s a relentless pursuit of the little picture over there at the Clinton campaign,” Axelrod continued. “There are bigger issues at stake here.”
One of the better arguments against an Obama presidency in 2008 was his lack of demonstrated management ability. How was someone with such little practical governing experience going to manage something as sprawling and complex as the U.S. Federal government? Sure, he could give big speeches about big ideas, but he didn’t have the executive record to back it up. Conservatives wondered: “This guy hasn’t run a lemonade stand, what makes you think he’s ready for this?”
Obamaphiles shot back at this criticism by citing none other than Mr. Obama’s management of his own presidential campaign. Yes, I’m being serious. In fact former Governor Angus King made this very point in a Youtube video, stating that then Senator Obama’s campaign was ”one of the best-run start-up businesses in the history of the United States.”
But there’s a big difference between governing and campaigning. Government demands more than flowery speeches. It requires leaders who take responsibility for their administration’s policies, even the “little picture” ones.
You know, like protecting American diplomats overseas.
President George W. Bush demonstrated this kind of leadership when confronted with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in 2004. He took personally the failures of the soldiers that perpetrated the abuse and took responsibility for their actions in the midst of a contentious presidential election year. His Secretary of Defense offered to resign on multiple occasions, but Bush rejected the idea every time. For him, Abu Ghraib was his scandal, not Donald Rumsfeld’s.
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because I mistakenly believed he shared President Bush’s sense of honor and humility. I never once bought the hope and change hype. The speeches never made me swoon; I never got a thrill up my leg. But I did genuinely believe that Mr. Obama’s moderate (at the time) policy proposals and his unique ability to inspire other Americans were enough for him to do the job, at least as well as the curmudgeonly inept John McCain. How wrong I was.
With the election just weeks away, many Americans are probably going to continue to focus on the economy and the government’s pressing fiscal instability as the issues du jour. Still, the Benghazi scandal reveals a troubling pattern of absent leadership in the Obama White House.
If Mitt Romney wants to win this thing (and he most certainly does), he should not relent on that point. In the White House, the buck stops at the President’s desk, not the Secretary of State’s.