In a graduation speech made to the Class of 2013 at Ohio State University earlier this month, President Obama warned students about ‘…voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that is the root of all our problems. You should reject those voices,’ he went on to say, reassuring his audience that ‘The cynics may be the loudest voices – but they accomplish the least.’
In light of recent events, however, it appears that these ‘cynics’ may have had a point. In the last few weeks, the Obama administration has been rocked by a series of scandals which appear to make the President’s reassurances seem increasingly hollow.
Since January, the administration has been under increasing pressure to reveal the truth behind what happened on September 11 of last year, when the American consulate in Benghazi was attacked by Islamist militants, during which the American ambassador, Christopher Stephens was killed.
The official explanation attempted to blame the release of an Islamophobic video entitled The Innocence of Muslims for the attacks. However, subsequent investigations have revealed new dimensions to the story, including the possibility that the United States may have been implicit in the transportation of arms from Libya to Syria via Turkey.
The jury is still out on whether this was in fact the case. However, former Secretary of State Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs committee revealed that she did not read the numerous cables coming from the Benghazi consulate in which ambassador Stephens repeatedly requested additional protection, citing fear for his and his staff’s safety.
Nobody is suggesting that the Secretary of State has the time to read every single cable coming from every single embassy or consulate across the world. But to not read cables from Libya – currently one of the most dangerous places in the world – and to subsequently not make provisions to better protect an embassy that, at the time, was guarded by an unofficial Libyan militia while there were US marines stationed in Tripoli is absolutely inexcusable.
In this case, it is the fact that the administration has attempted a breath-taking cover up of the events that happened last September which makes the story all the more disturbing.
We were then confronted with another scandal in which it was revealed that the IRS, responsible for raising internal federal revenue, was targeting Tea Party and conservative groups by making them wait exceptionally long for tax-exempt status or submitting them for audits.
The acting commissioner has since resigned, although there have been no consequences for those who were involved in the targeting at the time it happened. This story on its own should be enough to shock anybody of any political persuasion. It sends out the message that any one who is critical of excessive government spending or opposes the administration in general under the guise of a ‘Tea Party’ or ‘conservative’ label will not be tolerated by the federal government.
But of course we are supposed to not worry about that because President Obama in his infinite wisdom has reassured us that everything will be fine and that the government would never do that to anybody. Again these words look increasingly disingenuous.
As if that is not bad enough, it then emerged that the Department of Justice tried to obtain information from the Associated Press without any kind of warrant. So on top of the government targeting grass roots groups who object to it, it now appears to setting the dangerous precedent for government department to go after journalists too.
If you are not worried by the implications of this then you should be. Right now, Obama may have the best of intentions, but suppose these scandals go without condemnation or investigation and there are no serious consequences for those involved. A dangerous precedent would be set for someone with not so wholesome intentions to use and abuse these powers in the future.
If this is conjuring up images of 1984 and of a police state then it should because, despite Obama’s reassurances that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to government power, these scandals which bear a worrying resemblance to the actions of some tyrannical regimes, happened on his watch.
The events of the past few weeks seem to be completely out of character for a President who claimed that his administration would be the most transparent in history. If the scandals of the past few weeks have taught us anything, it is that President Obama was tragically wrong about those who warn of government tyranny.
Instead of trusting the President on the basis of a few remarks he made to college students, we need to now be ever more vigilant when it comes to granting the government arbitrary power. For, as James Madison said ‘All men having power ought to be distrusted.’