What Obama Doesn’t Know About What His Staff Is Doing Could Fill An Encyclopedia.
Poor Teleprompter Jesus. His disciples just keep failing him again and again, don’t they? The Judas of the week are unnamed people at the Federal Reserve, who are being blamed because they scandalously failed to inform The One of the AIG bonuses,
Federal Reserve officials knew for months about bonuses at American International Group but failed to tell the Obama administration, according to government and company officials, exposing problems in a relationship that is vital to addressing the financial crisis.
As pressure mounted on AIG employees to return the bonuses, new details emerged yesterday about what the Fed, the Treasury Department and the White House knew regarding the payments and when. AIG executives said the Fed was informed three months ago by the company that it would pay $165 million by March 15 to employees working at its most troubled division. The Treasury and White House said they learned of the payments from Fed officials only days before they were due.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, a central figure in the decision to bail out AIG last fall as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in an interview yesterday that he had not been aware of the size of the bonuses and the timing of the payments.
…Obama learned of the bonuses March 12, the day before they were paid out, from Axelrod, whom Geithner had briefed on the situation. The president was “aggravated” and “a little bit disbelieving,” Axelrod said in an interview yesterday.
…Over the following days, Obama came out swinging, denouncing the bonuses while expressing “complete confidence” in Geithner. Yesterday, he continued the effort, saying that “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry.”
Oh, wow, Obama was just blindsided, wasn’t he? But how is it that Timothy Geithner, who presumably is working very closely with Obama on the economic crisis, didn’t know more about this given Chris Dodd’s comments?
The news continues to be dominated by the outrage over $165 million in bonuses for executives at the taxpayer-supported insurance giant AIG — and in particular by word from CNN that Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., says he agreed to a suggestion from the Obama administration and amended language to the economic stimulus plan so that such bonuses could continue to be paid.
So, the Obama administration worked with Democrats in Congress to make sure these bonuses would be paid, but now that there is heat coming down for it, they’re putting on this Kabuki theater for the public. Oh, they’re so outraged about the bonuses that they wholeheartedly supported until the public got angry….sure they are.
But, back to Obama’s obliviousness. This is not a one time thing. Back during the campaign, for example, Jake Tapper noted that Obama pulled this trick on a regular basis,
We started covering Sen. Barack Obama’s inability to hire good staffers in June 2007, when he blamed staffers for some opposition research trying to link Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, to outsourcing in India; for injecting some venom in the David Geffen/Hillary Clinton fight; and for missing an event with firefighters in New Hampshire.
In December, we noted again that Obama was blaming the answers on a 1996 questionnaire on a staffer; and was blaming his touring with “cured” ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin (which antagonized gays and lesbians) on bad vetting by his staff.
Those five buck-passing incidents were apparently not enough.
Yesterday, in an interesting New York Times look at Obama’s rise in Chicago politics, we learned that in 2004 some Jewish supporters became alarmed to learn that in a questionnaire Obama refrained from denouncing Yasir Arafat, or from expressing strong support for Israel’s security fence.
Reports the Times: “In an e-mail message, Mr. Obama blamed a staff member for the oversight, and expressed the hope that ‘none of this has raised any questions on your part regarding my fundamental commitment to Israel’s security.'”
In January, during MSNBC’s presidential debate in Las Vegas, Obama was asked about a document put together by one of his South Carolina staffers that listed comments made by the Clinton campaign that some perceived to be attempting to stoke racial fires. “In hindsight, do you regret pushing this story?” asked Tim Russert.
“Our supporters, our staff get overzealous,” Obama said. “They start saying things that I would not say, and it is my responsibility to make sure that we’re setting a clear tone in our campaign.”
In February in a meeting with the Chicago Tribune, Obama was asked about an earmark that went to the University of Chicago while his wife Michelle Obama worked there.
“I don’t think that I was obligated to recuse myself from anything related to the university,” Obama said, adding, “when it comes to earmarks because of those concerns, it’s probably something that should have been passed on to [U.S. Sen.] Dick Durbin, and I think probably something that slipped through the cracks. It did not come through us, through me or Michelle, and Michelle has been very careful about staying separate and apart from any government work. But you could make a good argument that this is something that slipped through our cracks, through our screening system.”
In a March 2008 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times to answer questions about Tony Rezko, Obama was asked about the fact that Obama had told the newspaper in November 2006 that he had never been asked to do anything to advance Rezko’s business interests. But the Sun-Times had subsequently learned about a October 28, 1998 letter Obama wrote to city and state housing officials on behalf of a housing project for seniors that Rezko was working on.
The letter, Obama said, “was essentially a form letter of the sort that I did all time. And that I wasn’t, by the way, aware of.”
A reporter asked: You weren’t aware that he was associated with the project?
Responded Obama: “I wasn’t even aware that we wrote the letter. The answer that I gave at the time was accurate as far as I knew…This was one of many form letters, or letters of recommendation we would send out constantly for all sorts of projects. And my understanding is that our letter was just one of many. And I wasn’t a decision maker in any of this process.”
The Sun-Times also pointed out that in November 2006 Obama estimated that Rezko had raised somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 for him during his political career.
But since that answer, Obama has given back almost $160,000 in Rezko-related contributions.
“The original estimate was based on, I asked my staff to find what monies they attributed to Rezko, and this was the figure given to me,” Obama said.
So, for those keeping track at home, that’s ten instances of Obama publicly blaming his staff for various screw-ups.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!
(You of course could also add Austan Goolsbee, Samantha Power, Gordon Fischer, and retired Gen. Tony McPeak.)
That would be 14. We will continue to keep track.
Then, after Obama was elected, he assured America that he certainly didn’t know that his chief aide may have been pushing his favored candidate for his Senate Seat, with Rod Blagojevich,
ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had a series of conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his top aide about possible replacements for President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate — but never discussed any possible deals with them, according to a report prepared by the Obama transition office.
The report states that Emanuel had “one or two” telephone conversations with Blagojevich, D-Ill., in the wake of Obama’s election victory, as George Stephanopoulos first reported. Emanuel recommended close Obama friend Valerie Jarrett as a possible successor — not realizing that Obama “had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate,” according to the report authored by Obama attorney Greg Craig, who is in line to become White House counsel.
And again, today, Obama is totally unaware of these bonuses that his administration worked to make possible.
Worst case scenario, Barack Obama is a shameless liar — okay, scratch that. We already know he’s a shameless liar. Worst case scenario, he is one of the lyingest liars ever to occupy the White House and he’s constantly blaming his staff to cover his own behind. Best case scenario, he’s a dolt who just reads whatever is on the teleprompter in front of him while his staff runs wild.
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