Responsibility, Or So Claimed
Maybe Barack Obama has more in common with former President Ronald Reagan than the incumbent's supporters and opponents realize.
Responding to controversy over the Iran-Contra scandal, President Reagan (link to video below) stated "there is no doubt mistakes were made... about activities taken without my knowledge." Later, he would claim "as personally distasteful as I find secret bank accounts and deiverted funds, as the Navy would say, 'this happened on my watch.'"
Not "I made a mistake" but "mistakes were made" and even "without my knowledge." And these things he finds "personally distasteful," acknowledging only the very obvious: they "happened on my watch."
Yesterday, President Obama channeled Reagan- and to be honest, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of politicians (and others, including pro football coaches) in the intervening years. Responding to the outrage over bonuses given to executives of American Internation Group, Obama noted "ultimately, I'm responsible." However, it was tough to determine what Obama was accepting responsibility for, given his invocation of victimhood ("held hostage"):
Now, what we're trying to do is get ourselves in a position where we make sure that going forward we're not held hostage to all these bad decisions that were made by these huge institutions in the past.
And there has been nothing wrong with his Administration's response: "I have complete confidence in Tim Geithner and my entire economic team."
Later in the day, speaking at a town hall meeting in southern California, Obama emphasized his refusal to take blame for the bonus fiasco as he stated "listen, I'll take responsibility. I'm the president" (for those unsure who was elected last November 4) and continuing
So for everybody in Washington who’s busy trying to figure out and blame somebody else, just go ahead and talk to me, because it’s my job to make sure we fix these messes even if I don’t make them.
Translation: as long as there are these people ("everybody") looking for somebody to blame, I'll step up and be the big man (or at least they can "talk to me"), even though "I don't make them" ("these messes"). A little like Ronald Reagan's "activities taken without my knowledge"- and insufficient explanation of his administration's level of involvement in approving the bonuses for executives of a company run into the ground.
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