I don't know which is more maddening, President Obama's repeatedly claiming he finds out about important matters only after reading the newspapers, his expectation that we'll swallow that, the even scarier prospect that it could be true, or that the media continue to give him a pass on it.
Obama told CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante that he learned of Hillary Clinton's use of her private email address for official State Department business after a New York Times report.
With no apparent self-consciousness or embarrassment, Obama said he learned about it at "the same time everybody else learned it through news reports." Then he followed with the equally preposterous and oft-repeated assurance, "The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency."
Wouldn't it be great if Obama had so little curiosity about matters he truly has no business meddling in?
Continuing to address everything but the scandal at hand, Obama said: "Let me just say that Hillary Clinton is and has been an outstanding public servant. She was a great secretary of state for me." ("For me"? Not "for this nation"? Oh well, let's move on.)
You may have heard that Obama — this guy who is so hands-on in his quest to fundamentally transform America that he thinks the secretary of state is his personal emissary — has professed ignorance about a long string of matters that ought to be in his orbit. It truly is astonishing and would have never been tolerated in any other presidency.
As long ago as March 2011, when concerned citizens were trying to alert the public to the sordid facts surrounding the gunrunning scandal known as Fast and Furious, Obama was basking in his own cluelessness, if we are to believe his statements. He told CNN Espanol that he first heard about the scandal on the news. In a March 22 interview, Obama said: "There have been problems, you know. I heard on the news about ... Fast and Furious, where allegedly guns were being run into Mexico and ATF knew about it but didn't apprehend those who had sent (the guns). (Attorney General) Eric Holder has ... been very clear that he knew nothing about this." In other words, "I didn't know, and my buddy Eric said he didn't know, and you shouldn't question either of us."
In September 2011, during a White House news conference, a correspondent asked then-press secretary Jay Carney whether Obama had been briefed about the Solyndra scandal. Carney said: "I think he's probably read some news accounts of it. I'm not aware that he's been briefed. I mean, what happened here is an investment did not pan out. There are a variety of reasons for that that have to do with the international marketplace and the price." In fact, the administration was intimately aware of this scandal as it was developing and actively tried to conceal it. In my book "The Great Destroyer," I noted that The Washington Post had reported that emails showed "vigorous debate within the Obama White House about whether the solar-panel manufacturer was a smart bet" and that Obama's "green-technology program was infused with politics at every level." Making matters worse, even when Solyndra was on the brink of collapse, the administration was concerned not with the fate of the employees — rarely, if ever, was there discussion of the impact that Solyndra's collapse would have on laid-off workers — but with the political fallout and optics and on Obama's re-election prospects.
During a White House press briefing in May 2013, Carney said Obama had first learned of the Justice Department's subpoenas for The Associated Press on "news reports" while he was on the road.
Also that month, concerning the IRS' targeting of conservative organizations, Obama said, "I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this." Remember how outraged he said he was and that he was going to take action? Never mind.
In October 2013, we learned that Obama had supposedly just learned that the National Security Agency had been bugging the phones of world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for almost five years.
Around that time, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blithely claimed that President Obama was unaware of the enormous problems with the Obamacare website before its launch. Carney dutifully confirmed, saying, "There is no question that we did not anticipate the scale of the problems with the website."
In May 2014, CNN's Jim Acosta asked Carney about when Obama first became aware of the Veterans Affairs scandal, including that fraudulent lists were made to conceal wait times. Carney, exhibiting no more embarrassment than Obama later would with Plante, responded: "You mean the specific allegations that I think were reported first by your news network out of Phoenix, I believe. We learned about them through the reports."
There is a pattern here that demonstrates a combination of presidential absenteeism and overt corruption. If we take Obama at his word that he honestly didn't know about these stories before the public learned about them, we must shake our heads at the unprecedented level of apathy and ignorance he has displayed. If he did know about these matters — which we know is the case with some, such as Solyndra, and is very likely the case with others, such as the IRS scandal — then we have no choice but to conclude that he is among the most deceitful of presidents. But you already knew that.