POTUS on NSA: Don’t Blame Me, Blame Clapper

December 22nd, 2013

During the President’s press conference, Ed Henry asked him about (false) statements Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made to Congress. In a response that hasn’t ginned up as much attention as I thought it would, the President distanced himself from what Clapper said, and effectively threw him under the bus driving up the BWI Parkway from Washington to Ft. Meade.

Q: You put it on your back. And so my question is, do you have any personal regrets? You’re not addressing the fact the public statements you’ve made to reassure the public — your director of national intelligence, James Clapper, months ago went up, got a question from a Democrat, not a Republican, about whether some of this was going on, and he denied it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But does — but Ed —

Q: Doesn’t that undermine the public trust?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — Ed, you’re conflating, first of all, me and — and Mr. Clapper —

Q: He’s director of national — and he’s still on the job.

The President goes on to doublespeak about how his statement six months ago that we struck the right balance is consistent with his statement now that we can strike the right balance with changes is fluff. Whatever.

But what is more striking is how he effectively said, don’t blame me for what Clapper said!

This is part of a pattern I’ve seen throughout the entire presidency. The President is very quick to blame other people for stuff that is done under his watch. The President is the Commander in Chief. Clapper works at the President’s pleasure. If the Director lies to Congress, the President should fire him. Not keep him on the job, but pretend that what Clapper said is not what the President thinks.

To make a parallel to Obamacare, how much did the President *not* know about with HealthCare.gov. He also said the website would be good to go on October 1. Almost everyone at HHS knew this wasn’t the case. Except for Sebelius. She should also be fired, but won’t because the Republicans would never allow her replacement to be appointed, even without a filibuster.

The buck stops here. If your subordinate lies to the American people, you fire him or her. You can’t keep this person in your cabinet, but distance yourself from what they do. This isn’t how it works.