Sins of Omission or Sins of Comission?

Drudge quotes from the transcript of Obama’s appearance/interview/campaign commercial on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:

STEVE KROFT: Did you overpromise? Did you underestimate how difficult this was going to be?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I didn’t overpromise. And I didn’t– underestimate how tough this was going to be. I always believed that this was a long-term project…And– you know, for individual Americans, who are struggling right now, they have every reason to be impatient. Reversing structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades, that was going to take time. It was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.

If there is one thing that could improve our current political debate it is being plain spoken, calling a lie a lie and a liar a liar. For too long, we have been locked in a political culture that thinks avoiding this word and substituting some pseudonym for the word “lie” is somehow equal to “statesmanship”. We hear the Clintonian “it depends on what the meaning of “is” is” parsing and evasion all the time now. It has become standard fare. We now say that someone “misspoke”, “mis-remembered” or my personal favorite – they “over suggested” – when it is clear to reasonable people that they simply just lied.

Eric Holder is a perfect example of this trait perfected by Clinton in this exchange with Jim Sensenbrenner at the House “Fast and Furious” hearings this week:

Rep. James Sensenbrenner: “Tell me what’s the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie.”

This is the Attorney General of the United States, the top law enforcement official of our country, a former United States Attorney and judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia speaking here. Really fills you with pride and confidence in this government doesn’t it? I know that I feel all warm and fuzzy inside – but then I AM in Scotland right now…

It is the same thought process based in avoidance that allows the White House to call the Fort Hood massacre an issue of “workplace violence” when it was clearly an act of terrorism inspired by militant Islam and facilitated by political correctness.

As far as “overpromising”, Kroft refers to the economy in specific and to be honest, I can find no specific quote from Obama where he commits to anything that could be used to measure success – there are plenty of “jobs saved and created”, “close GITMO” types of comments – items that sound good but are either not provable (there has never been a statistic for jobs that are “saved”) or are meaningless (Obama “ordered” GITMO closed but it isn’t closed and isn’t going to be).

Unfortunately for Obama there are definitions of lying that fit his situation. On a religious/spiritual level, Christianity defines both sins of commission (doing something) and sins of omission (not doing something when you should). In criminal law, an omission, or failure to act, will constitute an “actus reas” (Latin for “guilty act”) and give rise to liability when the law imposes a duty to act and the defendant is in breach of that duty. Does not the oath of office of the President of the United States as set down in Article II, Section 1, of the US Constitution, impose a duty to act?

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

I think it does – at least it would to an honorable and trustworthy man, but that doesn’t describe Obama or unfortunately most people in Washington these days.

Obama has taken his philosophy of “leading from behind” to an extreme in his approach to governance. He believes that if he just vomits ideas and never gets directly involved other than in a parenthetical and rhetorical manner, he can avoid responsibility for the negative consequences of his policies while taking credit for the successes (though there have been very few).

Embodying the worst traits of bad business leaders, Obama allows his troops to take the hits for policies he approves with a wink and a nod, just like the pronouncements about the unemployment rates and the “stimulus”.

True to the parsing nature of the current media and political culture, Obama’s supporters effected high dudgeon when Republicans asserted that Obama “promised to keep unemployment under 8 percent” via the now $825 billion “stimulus”. The ever helpful PolitiFact recounts this parsing via and examination of a statement by former Republican Senator from Virginia, George Allen:

On Monday we checked Allen’s claims about unemployment and job losses, rating them True. This piece examines his assertion that the stimulus “promised to keep unemployment under 8 percent.”

Allen, a former governor and U.S. senator, is not the only Republican peddling the claim. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and conservative pundit George Will have made similar statements. So did Virginia’s Eric Cantor, now House Majority Leader, back in July 2009.

PolitiFact has ruled that they had their facts wrong. Allen’s are wrong, too.

Why were Republicans wrong? Well, it apparently wasn’t a promise because it was presented as a a chart to support a report by Obama’s former top economic necromancer, Christina Romer:

We asked Allen’s campaign for the source of the candidate’s claim that that it was “promised” the stimulus bill would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Katie Wright, Allen’s director of communications, pointed us to a Jan. 9, 2009, report called “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” from Christina Romer, then chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the vice president’s top economic adviser. Other Republicans have also cited this as their source for past claims.

Their report projected that the stimulus plan proposed by Obama would create 3 million to 4 million jobs by the end of 2010. The study included a chart predicting unemployment rates with and without the stimulus. Without the stimulus, unemployment was projected to hit about 8.5 percent in 2009 and then continue rising to a peak of about 9 percent in 2010. With the stimulus, they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

As we all know now, the unemployment rate went higher. It peaked at just over 10 percent in early 2010 and was at 9.4 percent in December. It fell to 9.0 percent in January.

But what we saw from the administration in January 2009 was a projection, not a promise. And it was a projection that came with heavy disclaimers.

Heavy disclaimers? The very reason for the report and the public display of it was to support the “stimulus”. This is just another example of how the politicians and bureaucracy caveats every action to avoid responsibility. What should have been asked by the press  and Republicans at the time of the report are these questions, 1) do the presence of “heavy disclaimers” in this report render it moot, are the data and the projections in the report even useful?, 2) if the disclaimers are such to prevent any objective judgment of the report and performance of the “stimulus” via measurable results after the act, is the report nothing but showmanship presented by snake oil salesmen? and 3) does your presentation of this report constitute the requisite intent to mislead the American public for the express purpose of utilizing public funds for political gain?

Unfortunately,we didn’t hear those questions because haven’t had a press corps with balls since Helen Thomas took hers and retired. The press would rather talk about the people talking about the report than the report itself.

I think we know the answers – it was simply another form of lying that is accepted by the contemporary political culture. Funny how we ignore lies that cost us $825 billion dollars. For perspective, this number is equal to a check for $2,661 sent to every man, woman, gay, lesbian, transgendered person and child in America.

While it is factually true that those words of promise were never spoken by Obama, his solemn oath of office requires that he (or any president for that matter) be responsible for the acts of his administration and in actuality as he is the conduct of the entire government. He can lead from behind all he wants but he must be held accountable for the actions that are taken by others on his behalf. By the definition of his responsibilities and the legal term “omission”, knowingly allowing someone to mislead about something that he has responsibility for is the same as lying.

Too bad the laws regarding false advertising don’t apply to government.

And as far as history records, Obama has never gone on record saying that what Romer presented was wrong. Silence equals acquiescence.

As to his claim that, “I always believed that this was a long-term project…”, I offer this in his own words via Mitt Romney’s campaign:

Another lie.

Obama does unintentionally speak the truth when he says:

“It was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.”

It will take more than one president and that president will not be him.

Obama exhibits the worst leadership characteristics of any president since Jimmy Carter. There is no logical reason that he should be rewarded for his incompetence with a second term.

Talk Amongst Yourselves:

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