Is this a worrisome slip? Via a “Podium Pundit” a ex and current political speechwriters blog, a Mr Walsh offers “congratulatory” remarks regarding Mr Obama’s “deft” handling f the AIG bonus kerfuffle. Mr Obama had said:

Listen, I’ll take responsibility. I’m the president. So — we didn’t draft these contracts. And we’ve got a lot on our plate. But it is appropriate when you’re in charge to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen like this. So we’re going to do everything we can to fix it. So for everybody in Washington who’s busy scrambling trying to figure out how to blame somebody else, just go ahead and talk to me. Because it’s my job to make sure that we fix these messes, even if I don’t make them.

Now this Mr Walsh offers his take (which I freely and almost fully excerpt):

This is perfect on two levels. First, Americans love that kind of bravado from their leaders. “The buck stops here,” someone once said. Don’t go fussing with deciding who to blame; just blame me and let’s move on. Grrrr.

Second, the president manages to accept responsibility while making it clear he didn’t actually have anything to do with the issue. “Didn’t draft these contracts.” “Fix these messes, even if I don’t create them.”

In other words, “I would like you to credit me for taking responsibility for this issue, without actually blaming me for being responsible.” Masterful.

This isn’t anything at all like the buck stops here. The “buck stops here” is a phrase intended to give two messages (and that someone was popularized by “Give ’em ‘ell ‘arry” Truman). First and foremost that phrase means that “I’m the man in charge and therefore anything that goes wrong is my fault.” As Mr Walsh notes, Mr Obama is specifically not doing that here and is specifically and clearly pointing out that this is not his fault. That is exactly the opposite of the “buck stops here” meaning. And the Administration didn’t “draft” these contracts as it is being pointed out clearly and pointedly protected them with loopholes in the carefully read and considered stimulus bill. But … it wasn’t the Administration’s fault. Yeah right.

What Mr Walsh calls “masterful” sounds more to me like more of the same ducking and weaving. Just more of the same beltway operatives piling it higher and deeper on the rest of us. And it’s beginning to look like a continuing regular pattern of deceit. Many (and not just on the right, e.g., Mr Greenwald) have noted that for example on torture, just as in this case, Mr Obama’s rhetoric feints in one direction while moving in another. Torture is denounced, yet provisions for its continuation remain. Or here, I’m responsible but it’s wasn’t my fault. Or with any other of issues one could make similar accusations in which one thing is said and another is done. Rhetoric used as smokescreen to deceive.

Filed under: DemocratsMark O.Politics

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