Has the U.S. government become too vast for the President to be accountable for the misconduct of its bureaucrats?
Believe it or not, that’s the argument being advanced by President Obama’s former campaign manager David Axelrod for the
purpose of defending the President in the abuse of power scandals now engulfing his administration.
Politico reports on the political risk for the proponents of the kind of big government that President Obama champions in using this argument now to claim that the very politically-driven President bears absolutely no responsibility for the politically-driven misconduct of the government’s bureaucrats on his watch:
The uproars over alleged politicization of the IRS and far-reaching attempts to monitor journalists and their sources have not been linked directly to Obama. But it does not strain credulity to suggest that Obama’s well-known intolerance for leaks, and his regular condemnations of conservative dark-money groups, could have filtered down to subordinates.
The narrative is ideological. For five years, this president has been making the case that a growing and activist government has good intentions and can carry these intentions out with competence. Conservatives have warned that government is dangerous, and even good intentions get bungled in the execution. In different ways, the IRS uproar, the Justice Department leak investigations, the Benghazi tragedy and the misleading attempts to explain it, and the growing problems with implementation of health care reform all bolster the conservative worldview.
Hot Air’s Allahpundit tries to wrap his mind around the logic of Axelrod’s argument:
What’s significant about Axelrod’s defense of O is that he’s pointing to the size of government as a structural reason for why scandal might proliferate, which is downright Reaganesque as a critique of the federal leviathan. The bigger the government gets, the less accountability there’ll be. That’s conservatism 101.
The perverse twist is that he’s using that logic to exculpate Obama. Try to get your mind around that. A guy who helped O win two presidential elections by arguing that government needs to do more, especially for health insurance (which will soon be partly under the jurisdiction of the IRS, natch), is now trying to absolve Obama of responsibility for his underlings’ malfeasance by suggesting that ... no one can really control a government this big. Obama’s off the hook, thanks to his dogged efforts to make the country even more ungovernable than it already is.
A government that is too vast is a government that cannot last.
The Independent Institute’s Robert Higgs has some pretty detailed thoughts on the problems that are inherent in having a government that’s too big for its own good....
Federal Bureau of Investigation