The Audacity of Ignorance

Bret Stephens's otherwise excellent column in the Wall Street Journal, "Obama and the 'Amazon Experience,'" concludes with a head-scratching interpretation of a recent Obama comment:

"I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn't going to work," Mr. Obama admitted at a press conference last month, in a rare moment of presidential humility. Maybe it's the beginning of something.

It's true that humility is rare in the 44th president, but it's wildly inaccurate to interpret this as the beginning of a new humbleness.  "A typical moment of presidential hubris" would be more fitting.  Obama didn't "admit" anything; he peevishly challenged those people (his Republican "enemies") who accuse him of being stupid (no doubt because they're a bunch of racists), when in fact he's the smartest guy in the room, the most brilliant president in history.

You see, he wasn't stupid, just ignorant.  And therefore exempt from responsibility.

It's a familiar Obama defense: the president claims he didn't know anything about Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, and many other scandals.  In fact, he was as shocked as everyone when he read about it in the newspaper that very morning.

It's likely that Obama is brazenly lying when he claims ignorance, unless he has surrounded himself with incompetent yes-people afraid to bear any bad news (entirely possible).  It's also conceivable that Obama's advisors tell him things, but he doesn't pay attention or care much about the job of running the country.  He might have been fiddling with his BlackBerry or playing cards in the next room when the problems were under discussion.

But giving Obama a huge benefit of the doubt -- assuming he really didn't know, for example, that the ObamaCare website wasn't going to work -- what kind of excuse is ignorance?  People knew that the website was in trouble.  Obama should have known.  He should have been told, and if he wasn't told, he should have asked.

Obama doesn't lament his ignorance -- doesn't see it as a failing, a sign of incompetence or incuriosity.  The ignorance defense is not evidence of the president's humility; it's further confirmation of his narcissism.

Inside Obama's head, he promised that the website would work, and he actually believed that it would work, therefore he cannot be accused of making false promises.  No duplicity here, no bad faith, as if what he thought is what really matters.  Out in reality, however, the stubborn fact is that Obama promised that would work, and it didn't.