Obama Heard It Through the Grapevine
Our president’s response to the shameful treatment, or rather mistreatment, of our veterans in the VA Medical system made me realize that not only is the president a master of basketball trivia (witness his masterful preparation of his March Madness brackets) he is apparently also a huge fan of Motown and Marvin Gaye.
Particularly Marvin Gaye’s recording of the classic I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
The reason I conclude that Obama loves that song is that it appears he has memorized key lyrics and uses them frequently when he is explaining that, whatever the scandal de jour might be today, he personally had no knowledge of anything connected to it until he read about it in the paper or saw it on a TV news report.
The lyrics come readily to mind:
“Ooh, I bet you're wondering how I knew
It took me by surprise I must say,
when I found out yesterday.
Don't you know that...
I heard it through the grapevine…”
Now I will be the last person in the world to say that our president is lying when he says that he had absolutely no knowledge of any of the events surrounding the VA medical system failures. I’m sure that all the speeches he’s given regarding the topic since he decided to run in 2007 all referred to hypothetical instances of failure on the part of the Veterans Administration, not actual, verifiable failures.
But when the CEO of any organization is forced to deal with what would be, at a bare minimum, a public relations catastrophe because he hadn’t heard about the rot within his own organization, you might think that someone would lose his/her job over not keeping the boss in the loop. Yet Obama’s announcement (via Jay Carney, his press secretary) was that he was “madder than hell” about it kind of indicates that he was surprised by the news, wouldn’t you think?
But then he was surprised by the news that he got from the media that the IRS was targeting conservative groups. He was shocked by the news that the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen were having their phones tapped. He was upset when he read that guns being walked into Mexico thanks to his own Attorney General. And the list goes on and on. And he is always going to get the perpetrator of these outrages – at least once the current investigation is concluded and he finally has all the facts.
Perhaps he’s waiting for the guy who was supposed to keep him in the loop, keep him current on the news and who’s supposed to make sure he isn’t blind-sided by the media, to give him the results of all those investigations. If that’s the case, I suppose none of us should hold our breath waiting for him to act, since it seems obvious that this nameless guy isn’t doing his job.
One time, and one time only, I’ll accept surprise on the part of the president. Realistically, the bureaucracy is good at sending in reports (if only to protect their own backsides) and it is impossible for this president or any president to read them all, or even a tiny percentage of them all. But he has thousands of staffers in the Executive Branch who can read them and send an alert up the chain of command that there is a serious potential problem. There are Inspectors General, there are whistleblowers who are legally protected, in other words, many sources of information that are the same as those employed by the media. It seems that no one in the White House wants to interrupt the president’s card game or round of golf to discuss the distressing news that veterans are dying because of the incompetence of his administration.
If I were the president, someone would be fired, loudly and publicly, for failing to pass that little tidbit of information along. Do you know how many White House staffers have been fired because of that kind of failure? Correct, not one. And yet this is a man with an extensive history of throwing people under a bus.
Now as I said earlier, I’m sure the President couldn’t possibly be lying, but it certainly makes you wonder.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy and American cultural idiocy. Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org