Big Government As Usual

It sure looks to me that Obama has done everything he practically could in response to the undie-bomber. The reforms he outlines seem sensible enough. Except one thing: no one will actually face consequences for this failure. Why? Because it was a system failure, and no one individual's fault. The only difference with Bush is that Obama wants to take full responsibility on himself:

I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer.  For ultimately, the buck stops with me.  As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people.  And when the system fails, it is my responsibility. 

Here's what that says to the men and women of the security and intelligence institutions of government who failed us: you will never be fired, and you will never face real consequences for failing to do your job competently.

And when a system never holds any of its specific members responsible, there is no direct incentive to get things right. This is simply human nature and one reason people are rightly deeply skeptical of government is its use of its monopoly power to prevent itself from ever being held as accountable as any other human being in any other line of work.

In the end, Obama is like Bush in this respect. In the struggle between citizenry and big government in ensuring basic competence, big government always wins, and always, always protects its own. Just as Obama has protected government officials who committed war crimes, he is protecting those who failed in basic responsibilities. This guarantees that reforms won't work.

Change we can believe in? Nah. Just big government covering its own ass yet again. I guess we can merely be relieved that all the people who failed us were not given Medals of Freedom.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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