New York Times: Obama Struggles to Stay in Command

Image: New York Times:  Obama Struggles to Stay in Command

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 02:07 PM

By Melanie Batley

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President Barack Obama repeatedly has pleaded ignorance in the face of a number of controversies that have dogged his presidency, and critics have a point when they say it's a sign that he is failing in his responsibility as commander-in-chief, The New York Times reports.

"President Obama finds himself under fire on two disparate fronts these days, both for the botched rollout of his signature healthcare program and for the secret spying on allied heads of state. In both instances, his explanation roughly boils down to this: I didn't know," the paper says.

"As a practical matter, no president can be aware of everything going on in the sprawling government he theoretically manages. But as a matter of politics, Mr. Obama's plea of ignorance may do less to deflect blame than to prompt new questions about just how much in charge he really is."

Editor's Note: Video Exposes Dangers of Obamacare Law

The Times notes that while Republican lawmakers have seized on the White House explanations of the president being unaware to label Obama as "bystander president," as the Republican National Committee put it, Democrats are concerned too, though less inclined to blame the president for being out of touch.

"It seems to be there's a pattern here — with any bad news coming out of the administration, the excuse is the president just didn't know about it," Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger told the Times.

"There's a point at which the I-didn't-know excuse really violates the idea of 'the buck stops here,'" he said. "We want to have a feeling that the president ultimately takes responsibility. The American people want to know they have a president who's in control and in charge."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein also was critical of the president, the Times pointed out. The California Democrat said it was a "big problem" that the president was unaware that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was being monitored.

Aides, however, continue to dismiss suggestions that Obama is to blame, and insisted that the president would not tolerate advisers keeping negative information from him. Nonetheless, the Times noted, the president also was apparently caught off guard about the IRS targeting scandal, and the Justice Department's decision to secretly obtain reporters' phone logs, both of which his staff knew about.

Obama has ranged from being very detailed on some matters, the Times said, but on other issues "he has seemed uninvolved at significant junctures."

The paper noted, however, that most modern presidents have had to walk a narrow line on how much detail to get into on various policy matters.

"The challenge for any president is keeping on top of a vast array of issues, any one of which could blow up at any given time," the Times said.

Editor's Note: Video Exposes Dangers of Obamacare Law

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