Friday, April 26, 2013

Who is Responsible for the "Mess" Now?

    President Obama attended the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas this week.  James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal attended the ceremony and recorded his observations is an article entitled "The Difference Between 43 and 44? Not So Much."  While making the case that more parallels exist between our last two presidents than President Obama would care to admit, Taranto recalls one of the talking points from the current president's first term:
The Bush-was-the-worst myth served a political purpose for Mr. Obama, enabling him to excuse his own shortcomings of leadership by blaming them on the "mess" he had "inherited." (Never mind that Mr. Obama was not some crown prince but an elected politician who aggressively pursued the office he now holds.)
    During the 2012 presidential campaign, I noted (as did Taranto) the stark contrast in the president's willingness to take responsibility versus his penchant for pointing his finger at others.  On October 16, 2012, I wrote:
    The president already suffers from a reputation for blame-shifting that from an analysis of his words as recorded on the White House website seems well earned.  The last time the words "I take responsibility" appear on the website is July 6, 2011, in the transcript of the president's Twitter Town Hall.  By contrast, during that same time period, the phrase "got us into this mess in the first place" appears 86 times, referring almost exclusively to the previous administration.  Even when the president speaks of "fault," it is often in the context of placing the word in the mouths of his critics, as in "They say the economy is bad and it's Obama's fault."
    It is interesting to note that the phrase "got us into this mess" has completely vanished from the president's vernacular.  The last time the phrase appears on the White House website is November 2, 2012... just before the election.  In nearly six months, the president and the White House press office have not used the phrase once.  One must conclude either we are not in a “mess” anymore, or, if we still are, the president recognizes at this point in his second term who bears the responsibility for keeping us there.

    By the way, the last use of "I take responsibility" on the White House website?  Still July 6, 2011, almost 22 months.  However, in a debate with Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, the president did say relative to the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks, "I'm the president. And I'm always responsible."  The date of his statement?  October 17, 2012, the day after Taranto and I published our articles.  Coincidence?  Let's just say I'm willing to take responsibility.

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