Published November 01, 2013
While everyone has been focused on the ObamaCare hearings and Healthcare.gov's rollout woes, there has been little attention paid to a second hearing on Capitol Hill this week -- on leaks that the NSA is spying on world leaders and America's closest allies.
Yet, in many ways, the NSA spying scandal may have more negative, long-term consequences for the United States.
We now know that the NSA was taping into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone, and the phones of at least 30 more world leaders.
The reality is, in today’s world everybody is probably spying on everybody else. The technology exists and the genie is not going back into the bottle. The problem is we were caught red handed, and then bungled the damage limitation.
Once the story leaked, President Obama should have grabbed the phone and called Chancellor Merkel.
Can you imagine if this had happened on Bill Clinton’s watch? He would have called the chancellor right away, schmoozed her, smoothed things over and by the end of the conversation they not only would have figured out how to limit the political fallout, but been the closer for it.
Or, if Obama wanted to be a tough guy he could have said, “look, Angela, you’re probably taping my calls, we’re taping yours, so let’s call it even”.
Instead, Obama waited for Merkel to call him. When she finally did, he apparently gave her the cold shoulder, and had his press secretary say the president knew nothing about what the NSA was doing.
That’s cold comfort to Merkel and Germans, who have first hand experience with spying from their Nazi and East German Stasi days.
In the parliamentary elections last month, Chancellor Merkel reassured voters that America was not spying on Germans.
Now it looks like she was played for a fool.
This causes her political problems at home, as well as in the bilateral relationship. That's bad enough.
But there is a bigger problem with the NSA spying scandal. The president’s response is the same "the-dog-ate-my-homework" excuse he’s given on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS harassment, FBI press wiretaps, and now ObamaCare.
Either the president is lying about these scandals, which is bad enough, or he is telling the truth, which is even worse.
If the president doesn’t know what his administration is doing, then who does? Has the federal government gotten so big and complicated that it is now on auto-pilot?
Dumb policies can be reversed with a change of attitude, or new leadership. But if government is out of control, it will be a lot harder and take much longer to fix.