Conspiracy theories are for people with too much time on their hands and too little in their heads. Real conspiracies, like the two now occupying our headlines, are the stuff of congressional investigations and impeachment hearings. They cost time and money to sort out when lawmakers should be doing something other than policing our wayward government.
From Iran-Contra to Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, conspiracies and cover-ups are business as usual in Washington. The White House extricated itself from the Fast and Furious debacle, but revelations of IRS Tea Party harassment and the Benghazi cover-up have put two whoppers in Barack Obama’s hands. What makes these new Washington conspiracies different is how they confirm the lack of trust we have grappled with from an administration that promised just the opposite:
We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.¹
Washington conspiracies are partisan free-for-alls.
Let’s be honest. The dream of every opposition party in the House or Senate is to trap a president where he can’t escape and to publicly shame his administration. Barack Obama would be quite a prize for the GOP. The investigation of the attack in Libya is hammering away at a very twitchy nerve that was irritated again with news of insults doled out by a Muslim religious figure at services for SEALS killed in Afghanistan.
Were trust and transparency violated by an administration backstory about anti-Muslim sentiment in America after terrorists killed our people in Benghazi? The trust issue is not just the cover up over what happened in Libya. It is also the issue of our government’s public pronouncements of sympathy and tolerance, and efforts to appease countries that hate us (see: Countries That Hate Us Could Be Our Best Friends). Trust is not gained by running down America for the sake of misguided foreign policy.
Why is anyone surprised that our government harasses conservatives?
When Obama administration officials speak, does anyone pay attention? If we had, we would have heard a clue about how conservative groups are viewed by the White House when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made these remarks about the Tea Party in February 2010:
Look, it seems to be a very successful private enterprise.²
I would say that there appear to be fewer speechmakers that are unemployed in this economy than what might have been previously reported.³
The IRS scandal strikes another blow to administration trust and transparency. Any conservative blogger knows that big brother has his eyes on us (see: Civil Candor Post Attracts Homeland Security’s Attention). Why are we surprised that the IRS targets conservative groups when we are already overly familiar with anti-conservative bias from agencies like the Departments of Justice, Labor, and Education?
Investigating and punishing Washington conspiracies are undeniably partisan pursuits. Unfortunately, the fracas distracts from the real issue. Conspiracies and cover-ups mock our trust in government, or whatever sliver of trust we have left. Obama administration promises of trust and transparency make its violations all the more egregious.