March 14 2013
President Obama has entered upon his fifth year of blamelessness.
A headline in the Weekly Standard sums up the president’s latest incident of blamelessness:
Obama: I Didn’t Cancel W.H. Tours, Secret Service and Congress to Blame
Somewhere in Texas George W. Bush must be breathing a sigh of relief that he is not being blamed.
Though blameless, President Obama is nevertheless “amused” when people say that the administration has exaggerated the effects of sequestration and then go on to “yell and scream” about the White House tours. I haven’t heard people yelling and screaming, but perhaps that is how we plebes look to the president.
The matter of the tours came up when the president made his recent foray to Capitol Hill:
When Obama said the decision was prompted by the Secret Service, some lawmakers groaned in disbelief.
“Now, now, let’s be respectful,” Obama replied.
Carney at Wednesday’s press briefing sought to place responsibility for the decision on the White House, not the Secret Service.
“We had to cancel the tours, it’s our job to cancel the tours,” Carney explained. “[The Secret Service] cannot cancel them … this is not a tour of the Secret Service building. It’s a tour of the White House and the grounds, and we run the tours and the invitations and that process.”
But Carney also blamed Republicans for forcing the sequester to take effect in the first place.
Meanwhile, an ex-Secret Service agent also says that the Secret Service isn’t responsible for canceling the tours. Breitbart reports:
“The president’s absolutely not telling the truth when he said the Secret Service made that decision to cut [the White House] tours,” [former Secret Service agent Don] Bongino said. “That’s the core of it: he is not telling the truth.”
Bongino, who served 12 years in the Secret Service including five years working directly at the White House before leaving to run as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Maryland, said Obama is lying because the Secret Service does not make such decisions.
“The Secret Service does not make political decisions,” Bongino said. “The Secret Service makes security decisions. His statement that it was a Secret Service decision internal budget decision--and keep in mind, I’m not speaking for the Secret Service, I’m speaking from experience of being with them. All he’d have to do is cancel one or two of his political trips and his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, which two years ago I was on and helped coordinate, he would save that money times ten. There was just no way this was a sound decision. To insinuate this is the first administration where the White House social office and the Executive Office of the President had no role in cancelling public tours at the White House, that he was the first president who was left out of the decision, is absolute nonsense.”
A visit to the White House has enormous symbolic meaning for Americans. Andrew Jackson opened the White House to ordinary guests to make a populist point when he was inaugurated. I can see a scenario where we could not afford tours, but this cancellation was clearly a political stunt that backfired.
But it has done one thing: it has spotlighted the lavish manner of living of the first family, which the taxpayer supports. This did not by any means start with the Obamas. But the presidential lifestyle currently is out of sync in an America with economic woes. White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to address the issue at a recent press conference.
Of course, we shouldn't have to talk about the president's expenditures on travel and pleasure. If we had a president capable of taking responsibility, the issue would never come up. He would have announced that he was personally cutting back on golf outings and vacations and what have you because of the sequester. But that is not the way the White House operates. The relentless blaming of others is but a symptom af hubris. So is living like a king in a republic's White House.