10 January 2014

The Blockage of OIP Derangement Syndrome

With Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey suddenly forced to respond to clear evidence that his deputy chief of staff and other appointees abused government power on his behalf, the American right is flopping around for a response. And the consensus is, of course, to complain about President Barack Obama.

This morning’s conservative talking point appears to be that Christie’s press conference was more forthright and responsible than Obama’s response to problems. For example, Talking Points Memo reported on this discussion on Morning Joe:

Mika Brzezinski said the presser trumped the President’s response to last year's scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service.

“Obama said he didn’t know about it, but he didn’t do what Chris Christie did,” Brzezinski said. “Which was say, ‘But I’m responsible, and I don’t know what I did in my office, and I’ve got to do a lot of soul-searching to figure out why people felt they could do this. I thought that was extremely —”

“Have you ever heard Barack Obama say that?” host Joe Scarborough chimed in.
I’ve seen others try to draw parallels to the poor healthcare.gov rollout, the ATF’s “gun walking” investigations that go back to the Bush-Cheney administration, and the National Park Service closings. And, of course, Benghazi.

But a clear look at those issues shows that they’re not parallel to the Christie administration’s abuse of power. No one has found a White House deputy chief of staff telling an agency head to cause trouble for people because the head of their political jurisdiction didn’t cross party lines to endorse the President. After months of investigation, no one has linked the misreported IRS scandal to the White House, much less to directives from someone at the level of a deputy chief of staff.

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, insists that he’s never heard President Obama take responsibility for things that happened under his administration. His brain has apparently failed to retain contrary news stories of the past few years. For example, “Obama Says He Is Ultimately Responsible for Benghazi Security” (The Hill, 28 Oct 2012), and “President Obama Apologizes to Americans Who Are Losing Their Health Insurance“ (Washington Post, 7 Nov 2013).

In sum, President Obama has accepted ultimate responsibility for government problems, even for things he and his White House staff didn’t cause. Governor Christie disclaims responsibility for actions of his deputy chief of staff and others on his behalf. People affected by OIP Derangement Syndrome can’t remember the former and somehow see something to admire in the latter.

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