We don’t know him well enough from this distance to say what kind of man he is, but it is not difficult to believe recent media portrayals of him as a shallow, cynical, self-absorbed fellow who is either a deliberate menace to honest, good government or is so disinterested in his job that he doesn’t smell the oozing corruption around him.
Last week it became clear the administration lied for political gain about the Benghazi attack on U.S. diplomats that left four people dead in Libya. Also, the Internal Revenue Service has systematically targeted people who disagreed with the administration on policy issues, and Obama’s Justice Department has been wiretapping The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of listening to conversations about stories related to the administration.
Such matters show the same shameful and paranoid approach to governing that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. But we don’t think Obama’s situation, or Nixon’s before him, should be surprising to anyone. What is troubling is that we keep needing to learn the same lessons over and over again.
Government consists of people, sadly many of whom are morally empty or lack empathy or do not have the general welfare of the nation, state or local community first in their hearts. They are not that way because of their party or politics. They are that way simply because they are people displaying some of the basic traits of the species. We have been suffering and we hazard to say we will continue to suffer from people with these frailties for the foreseeable future.
Our founders understood the only way to avoid tyranny from a government with the power to regulate was to limit government in size and scope and make it accountable to people it controls. The bigger, more powerful and more remote government is, the more bad government will come out of it.
It is ironic that Obama, who sees government programs and intervention as the cure for what ails us, is demonstrating in real time, right in front of us, why it is not. Perhaps this time the lesson will stick for a short while or perhaps not at all.
It will be an interesting summer in Washington.