Monday, June 22, 2009

IG Gerald Walpin Firing, Further

The inspector-general system in the federal government is vastly overrated and has an undeserved reputation for nonpartisan, objective investigations. In fact, many current and former government employees have been abused by...ideological witch hunts, conducted by glory-hunting IGs trying to make a name for themselves in the Washington political and media world...But two years ago, then-Senator Obama co-sponsored the Inspector General Reform Act...enacted last year as the Improving Government Accountability Act. Part of the purpose of that law...was to make sure that IGs operate with “sufficient independence to do their jobs well,” without fear of political repercussions. Thus, the law requires the president to communicate “in writing the reasons for any” removal or transfer of an IG. The Senate report says this provision is intended to “ensure that Inspectors General are not removed for political reasons.”...At first there was no explanation for Walpin’s firing; Obama simply said he “no longer” had “the fullest confidence” in Walpin. After the initial uproar, the White House started claiming the IG had been “disoriented” and “confused” at a May 20 meeting, something an eyewitness directly refutes....What is Obama Trying to Cover Up?, Hans A. von Spakovsky & Todd Gaziano, National Review, 6/22/2009

As those who remember more than the past year should recall, cover-ups take on a life of their own. An executive shuts one person up with dismissal; then another person gets transferred out because he or she saw something; then a quick, vague report is transmitted to the press to explain both actions; then the press asks some questions and an increasingly elaborate fiction is developed to rationalize the first report of the firings. Before long, a web of deceit has been built.

It takes a lot of energy to do that. Even the executive's friends and allies may begin to wonder about their colleague's integrity, about his real commitment to goals and objectives, about his judgment. The executive may begin to work them over as well until one of two things happen.

The best choice is for the executive to come clean, accept responsibility, and bear the consequences.

The usual choice is for the lies to continue until no one listens anymore and the executive's authority lies in tatters. That was the answer for Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Both of their Presidencies ended in disaster.


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