Unaccountable and Unacceptable: Fast and Furious and the Incompetent Administration

Today, Obama’s top lawyer takes the stand. But in the eyes of the American people, Attorney General Eric Holder has already been found guilty.

Holder is testifying before Congress about his role in Operation Fast and Furious— the failed federal gun-trafficking sting that resulted in the death of a border patrol agent and the loss of more than 1,400 weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

When he testified on the scandal last month, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley pointedly asked, “Who will be held accountable?”

If Holder has his way, no one.

It’s all terribly symptomatic of the outrageous bureaucratic incompetence plaguing the Obama administration.

Time and again, a department embroils itself in a reckless scandal, feigns ignorance, and denies culpability. When the facts suggest otherwise, they refuse to hold anyone accountable—despite the chorus of demands for resignations

Today, it’s Holder in the hot seat. When the Fast and Furious scandal came to light, he unsurprisingly denied any knowledge or wrongdoing. While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms—the agency responsible for the botched operation—is part of the Justice Department he oversees, he pled ignorance.

But old memos and emails proved he knew much more than he let on. So when the Attorney General finally relented and complied with a Congressional subpoena last month, he faced an appropriately harsh grilling.

To recap: Over 2,000 guns were knowingly sold to straw purchasers with the plan of being traced to Mexican drug cartels. When that scheme failed, over 1,400 guns were lost.  More than 500 weapons have been recovered so far in the United States and in Mexico. Worse still, trafficked guns were later involved in the death of a border agent.

And yet, where’s the accountability? Where’s the outrage? The Justice Department carelessly empowered Mexican drug cartels and Holder still has his job.

Yet he’s not the first secretary seemingly unashamed of his managerial malpractice.

Before Holder, there was Chu—Steven Chu, Obama’s Energy Secretary. His scandal: Solyndra. When the stimulus-backed solar energy company went bankrupt, it took 1,100 jobs and half a billion dollars in taxpayer money down with it. Did anyone in the Energy Department take responsibility for a loan program gone so dreadfully wrong? Did any official admit that spending taxpayer money for political favors was gross mismanagement?  Not a one.

And then there’s Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury. Last April, he predicted in no uncertain terms that there was “no risk” of a U.S. credit downgrade. Then in August, after the President failed to lead on deficit reduction, Standard and Poor’s announced the downgrade of the national credit rating from AAA to AA+.

I immediately called for Geithner’s resignation saying, “The Treasury Department is no place for such irresponsible stewardship.” I was hardly alone in recognizing that Geithner needed to go; numerous congressional leaders agreed. And yet, there was no accountability from the administration.

It’s only a matter of time before another Obama official reveals his or her incompetence. And, we can be sure, no one will take responsibility. They’ll spin a trademark web of deception to cover up their negligence.

In recent days, President Obama has attempted to cloak himself in the mantles of former presidents. On Tuesday, he made a campaign stop in Kansas to channel Teddy Roosevelt. While there, he invoked Dwight Eisenhower.

He would do well, though, to echo Harry Truman. On his desk in the Oval Office, President Truman placed a sign. “The Buck Stops Here,” it read.  President Obama has no such sign, but the mantra should apply equally: ultimate responsibility for each and every one his administration’s failures—and they are many—rests with him.

The leadership deficit in the Obama administration begins with the man who put the team together. Incompetence starts at the top. If no one is held accountable for his team’s many missteps, voters will undoubtedly make sure the buck stops where it’s supposed to.   If Obama won’t fire Geithner, Chu, and Holder, we will. We’ll fire the whole team—in just 11 months.