Published December 03, 2009
When the Obama administration screws up it is quick to blame others. They do that until they can’t blame anyone anymore, that is, when the truth comes out and the culpable staffer is fired or resigns.
We all remember the infamous fly-over of New York City by Air Force One this past summer. When it became quite apparent that it was a grievous error in judgment to allow Air Force One to “buzz” New York City while being chased by U.S. fighter planes at low altitude in a post 9/11 world, what did the White House do? They blamed the Pentagon. The White House refused to take any responsibility for days, hoping the story would just fade away. It did not.
The press knew better and the American people wanted the truth.
After several days it became quite apparent that is was in fact a presidential appointee whose office was in the White House that approved the fly-over of New York City. The Director of the White House Military Office approved the mission and resigned when the clamor became so great there was no one else to blame. -- The White House Military Office is responsible for the military assets of the office of the president. They are in charge of Air Force One, the presidential Helicopters, Camp David, the White House Mess, the White House motor-pool, the president’s military aides and classified programs.
It appears we have another “blame someone else” scenario when it comes to the Salahis, the now infamous Virginia party crashers who were allowed in to the White House state dinner in honor of the Prime Minister of India last week. The Salahis were not invited guests, and according to the White House, did not appear on any authorized guest list. The administration was quick to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the United States Secret Service and took no blame for its own incompetence.
Like the AF-1 fly-over fiasco of New York, the White House stonewalls when the press and others don't buy their argument about whom to blame. They try to deflect questions by saying things like, “the matter is under investigation, and therefore we cannot go further.” Really? You sure were quick to throw the Secret Service under the presidential limo.
Well, the press knows better and the American people want the truth.
Yes, the Secret Service deserves some blame for the Salahis wrongfully gaining access to the White House state dinner, but the White House Social Office is to blame as well. The Director of the White House Military Office is a hand picked presidential appointee, as is the White House Social Secretary. These people were chosen for their jobs by the president of the United States himself and serve at his pleasure. The fact that the Social Office did not see fit to have proper staffing for a White House state dinner is unconscionable. To not have staff stationed outside the security check point to “assist” the Secret Service is processing guests through security is at best bad manners and at worst gross negligence.
I predict that within a few days a White House staffer will resign to “spend more time” with her family.
The White House needs to take responsibility for its own mistakes and shortcomings.
For an administration that is so quick to blame the Bush administration for everything that ails us, it is ironic, that had they kept a Bush holdover appointee in the White House Social Office this whole fiasco could have very well have been avoided.
The current staff of the White House Social Office made life so miserable for Bush appointee Cathy Hargrave that she resigned this past June. Hargrave’s job was not political at all. In fact her expertise was in supervising guest lists and managing the comings and goings of guests for state dinners and other high profile White House events. Cathy had great institutional knowledge and possessed extraordinary logistical skills with regard to White House social office operations. But, regardless of her skills and ability she was forced out of a position that could have saved the administration great embarrassment. Why force her out? Because she worked for the Bush administration -- that’s why.
The buck clearly does not stop with Obama’s White House it just gets passed there.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of public policy and politics. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.