CALL it a tale of two Obamas.
The first President Barack Obama appeared recently in Moore after the tornado. That Obama said Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate came to Moore “at my direction.” That Obama proclaimed, “We've helped to register more than 4,200 people for disaster assistance, and we've approved more than $3.4 million in direct aid.”
The same Obama was front and center on May 2, 2011, to announce the killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. Obama declared, “I directed” the CIA to focus on bin Laden and that “I met repeatedly with my national security team” as the bin Laden hunt progressed. He stressed, “I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action ...” That attack, he repeated, occurred “at my direction.”
I did this. I did that. We provided. Action was taken at my direction. This President Obama would have Americans believe he oversees every major action of the federal government, particularly when a specific action is politically popular.
But then there's the Obama who appeared after it was revealed the IRS had targeted conservative and pro-Israel groups with audits and extreme scrutiny, that the Justice Department was investigating reporters for the crime of journalism, and that the government's response to the Benghazi embassy attack was misleading and lackluster, at best.
That Obama can barely tell you where the public restroom is located, let alone who's in charge.
On the IRS issue, Obama claimed, “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.”
On Benghazi, Obama painted a picture of a White House with little direct knowledge or power. “Here's what we know: Americans died in Benghazi. What we also know is clearly they were not in a position where they were adequately protected.” Well, thanks for clearing that up!
After it was revealed the Justice Department had obtained phone records, as well as personal and work email records, of reporters at The Associated Press and Fox News, and even labeled one reporter a criminal “co-conspirator,” Obama simply announced that Attorney General Eric Holder would review the department's “guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters” and report back by July 12.
In all three cases, Obama issued vague denunciations of alleged abuses and failures, but the in-charge presidential persona seen in Moore was nowhere to be found. With the flip of a switch, Obama went from authoritative CEO to out-of-the-loop intern.
Clearly, Obama wants to have it both ways, claiming to be an in-charge leader one moment, then a powerless bystander the next, based on crass political considerations, not his actual involvement in any activity.
Given that Oklahomans are benefitting from federal disaster response, some will no doubt argue we should ignore this administration's failures elsewhere. But Americans have a right to expect competence and ethics in all parts of government at all times.
In Moore, Obama declared, “When we say that we've got your back, I promise you, we keep our word.” The value of this promise shouldn't be tied to which of the two Obamas stands behind the podium at the time. Given what happened to four Americans in Benghazi who had reason to think the government really had their backs, skepticism is justified.