Tags: Barack Obama | IRS Scandal | Obama | IRS | Targeting | Scandal

The President Who Didn't Know

The President Who Didn't Know
President Obama meets with senior advisers. (Getty Images)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 03:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A self-serving politician’s first instinct when scandal arises is to assert he knew nothing about what was going on. Barack Obama is about as self-serving as they come, so it’s no surprise he’s making an art form out of the claim that he hears about these things on the news, just as we’re hearing about them.

This is usually where someone like me, who has experience as the CEO of a large company, will point out that an effective executive has to be aware of what’s going on in his own organization.

After all, if anything is your job, it’s to make sure things are running smoothly and scandalous activities do not occur. If you can’t do that, exactly how good a leader are we supposed to think you are?

And when people like me say this, political types like David Axelrod will respond that the federal government is simply too vast for any one man to know everything that’s happening in it.

Well, one cheer for Mr. Axelrod for speaking that truth. But since he has, let’s be honest about what a problem this really is, and how people like himself and President Obama have helped to create the problem.

The day Obama took office I knew his executive leadership strategy was trouble. Ideally, an effective executive should have maybe three or four high-level people reporting to him directly. The most exceptionally talented CEOs might be able to handle seven direct reports.

When Obama entered the White House, with no executive management experience of any kind, he not only found himself with 15 cabinet-level secretaries and another eight cabinet-level officers, but his decision to appoint a variety of “czars” and other high-level political and administrative personnel left him with 65 people reporting to him directly.


And remember, this was a man who had never managed anything in his life. It was a recipe for utter dysfunction, and that is exactly how things have turned out.

One of the stories we hear about the IRS scandal is that Obama’s White House Counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, knew about the scandal for weeks and didn’t bother to inform the president. This, we’re told, is supposed to be some sort of defense of Obama.

See? He didn’t know!

As is so often the case in these situations, it’s hard to see if Ruemmler’s claim is believable or just an attempt to protect the boss. The same can be said for Lois Lerner’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer questions from Congress on the matter. Is she protecting herself, or protecting Obama?

But either way, the world of political consultants and pundits might see Obama’s ignorance as a point in his defense, but the world that understands real leadership certainly does not.

The federal government is without question a massive organization that’s very difficult to manage effectively, but a truly skilled executive would at least put in place a leadership structure that would ensure policies are understood and accountability to those policies is enforced. That could be done, if the right person were doing it.

President Obama is not the right person, and his lack of management skill and experience is only one reason. An even bigger reason is that a government responsive and accountable to the people is not his agenda.

Ideologically, he seeks a massive government that excels at self-perpetuation, which is why spying on the news media, harassing conservative political groups, and denying the truth about terrorist attacks is in its nature.

Obama may or may not have directed these behaviors, but everyone in the government knows these behaviors serve the interests of the boss, who is all about keeping the government big and powerful and shielded from accountability.

Especially at the top. He didn’t know. He heard it on the news, just like you did. There’s your leader, my fellow Americans. It’s not his fault because it can’t be his fault, because he can’t be expected to manage the government effectively.

So then why is he the president? Obviously not so we can get top-quality executive leadership out of the White House. But when things go — and a lot is going wrong these days — he’s very good at letting you know that he didn’t know.

Following the conclusion of his presidential campaign, Herman Cain established The Cain Solutions Revolution, an organization whose mission is to educate the public and advocate for the policy solutions that drove his campaign for the presidency. Read more reports from Herman Cain — Click Here Now.

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A self-serving politician’s first instinct when scandal arises is to assert he knew nothing about what was going on.
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 03:46 PM
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