Obama the hostage-taker
By Jonah Goldberg
October 10, 2013 | 11:13pm
Last week I accused the president of having a vindictive streak — of deliberately trying to make the lives of average Americans worse just so he could score ideological and political points.
In the case of the sequester, he ordered Cabinet secretaries not to do their jobs — i.e., to manage as best they could — but instead to find ways to make the cuts needlessly painful for innocents caught in the crossfire.
They dusted off the same playbook for the shutdown. As one park ranger told The Washington Times, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”
Admittedly, the case was circumstantial. There was no smoking gun. What was really needed was a confession.
Obama delivered. On Oct. 8, he was asked by Mark Knoller of CBS if he was “tempted” to sign the numerous funding bills passed by the GOP-controlled House that would greatly alleviate the pain of the shutdown.
Republicans have voted to reopen parks, fund cancer trials for children at the NIH, and to keep FEMA and the FDA going through this partial shutdown. But Obama has threatened to veto any such efforts, effectively keeping the Senate from considering the legislation.
“Of course I’m tempted” to sign those bills, Obama said. “But here’s the problem. What you’ve seen are bills that come up wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure, they put a bill forward. And if there’s no political heat, if there’s no television story on it, then nothing happens.”
For the first time in US history, a president confessed to deliberately hurting his country to score points against his enemies.
Which brings us to the national disgrace this week in which the Defense Department denied death benefits to the families of fallen service members.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insists, with operatic righteousness, that Obama never intended for the 26 families of the fallen to be denied this aid or to be hindered from retrieving their beloveds’ remains from Dover Air Force Base.
But Carney is surely lying. Yes, he notes that the Pentagon warned Congress in late September that the shutdown would prevent the payments from going out. But Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act to fund the military through the shutdown.
Administration officials first stonewalled Congress’ efforts for clarity on the issue, then the lawyers eventually determined that because the act didn’t specifically include the word “benefits,” they couldn’t err on the side of helping grieving families.
In other words, when asked to make a judgment call, and knowing that Congress wanted the benefits paid, this administration still claimed its hands were tied by the fine print.
Plus, by its own account, the White House says it knew for weeks this would happen. Yet it did nothing to remedy the situation. It only sprang into action when faced with a PR nightmare.
“The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem,” Carney told the press Wednesday. And once he did learn of it, Carney insisted, he ordered the problem fixed “today.”
When Fox News’ Ed Henry asked Carney when the president found out, Carney indignantly refused to answer. It’s not hard to guess why: because the president either knew all along, or his underlings believed they were following his plan.
Let me say it again. The president confessed. It’s his express policy to punish innocent bystanders in order to score partisan points. And it is only when that policy blows up in his face that he gets “very disturbed.”
When terrible things happened on George W. Bush’s watch — Katrina, Abu Ghraib, etc. — the immediate liberal response was to insist that Bush had in fact ordered or wanted the terrible things to happen. Now we have a president openly admitting it — and no one seems to care.