At the beginning of his first term, President Obama embarked on a famous “apology tour,” where he traveled the world describing all the various ways he imagined America hadn’t lived up to its ideals.
When it came to condemning the actions of others the president was front-and-center.
But now – when it comes time to apologize for his administration’s incompetence and misconduct – the apologies come from his subordinates.
After the Internal Revenue Service intentionally targeted conservative groups for unconstitutional scrutiny and leaked confidential taxpayer information to friendly liberal reporters, the apology came from Lois Lerner, a previously obscure career lawyer in the federal bureaucracy.
After the Obama administration botched the ObamaCare rollout – the president’s “signature” domestic policy – causing millions of Americans to lose their insurance with no easy way to replace it, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the fall by reading a scripted apology: “You deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems and I’m committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site.”
Yet there is no accountability, and these apologies therefore lack conviction. Apologies without accountability are meaningless.
Lois Lerner not only wasn’t fired, she was permitted to retire with a six-figure, taxpayer-funded pension.
As for Secretary Sebelius, she was at the helm of perhaps the world’s most famous and consequential IT meltdown, a meltdown so comprehensive that she was forced to admit that HealthCare.gov hadn’t even been fully tested for security vulnerabilities before going live.
Despite this meltdown, she still has her job.
Even worse, if the past is any guide, the administration will soon pivot from apologies to attacks.
After all, it was only a matter of weeks before the administration started calling IRS targeting a “phony scandal” – in spite of congressional investigations, an FBI investigation, and multiple lawsuits.
In fact, the pivot has already started. ObamaCare defenders, faced with the president’s obviously false promise that Americans would be able to keep their insurance and keep their doctor, now respond to millions of insurance cancellations by blaming insurance companies – calling their products “junk insurance” and claiming that consumers are better off with higher-priced plans.
Tell that to 50-year-old men dropped from their old plans because their new, ObamaCare-approved plans have to cover maternity care. As Representative Renee Ellmers asked Secretary Sebelius, “To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?”
Yet the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, will not approve insurance – even for men – that doesn’t include this coverage.
President Obama sends others out to apologize, refuses to hold them accountable for admitted failures, and then attacks the very victims of his administration’s abuse.
Hope and change indeed.
With millions of Americans losing their health insurance, including people who are desperately ill, the time for political spin is over. It’s time for accountability.
Here’s what true accountability looks like:
1. Secretary Sebelius should lose her job.
2. ObamaCare should be fully delayed for at least one full year, and Americans must be given the option to re-purchase their existing plans.
This gives HHS the opportunity to fix its abysmally broken exchanges, helps protects our citizens from the terrible consequences of the administration’s failure, and it allows the American people to speak with a loud voice – in the 2014 elections – to tell their members of Congress to repeal ObamaCare fully or join Secretary Sebelius in early retirement.
But even as the way forward is clear, I fear the Obama administration will hold to its own course, evade accountability, and continue the scapegoating. After all, it’s worked before.
With the enthusiastic assistance of a friendly media, it’s been able to spin and scapegoat its way out of scandals – from Benghazi to the IRS – that would have brought the Bush administration to its knees.
Perhaps, however, those days are over. After all, it’s tough to spin to a family facing prohibitive insurance premiums and sky-high deductibles.
It’s tough to spin to a couple staring at a broken website while still clutching their insurance cancellation notice.
It’s tough to spin millions of Americans who’ll pay fines on tax day for failing to buy insurance policies that are impossible to purchase.
Ultimately, reality will get a vote, and it’s voting against President Obama.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He is a New York Times bestselling author. Jay's latest book is "UNDEMOCRATIC: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom" (Howard Books May 19, 2015). He hosts "Jay Sekulow Live"-- a daily radio show which is broadcast on more than 850 stations nationwide as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.