Hello, is anybody home in the White House? Americans are beginning to think not, as President Obama disclaimed knowing about the ten-year-long wiretap of Angela Merkel’s cell phone.
The German leader gained knowledge that her phone was on the NSA collection list since 2002. The Germans were outraged and remain dubious about President Obama knowing nothing about it, as he claimed according to a news report covered by Reuters.
The president built his narrative to Merkel around the story that he just didn’t know. For ten years he didn’t know! If he had, he would have stopped it.
Being the United States President, Obama is low on the food chain of information flow in and out of the nation, especially on matters of foreign relations. Or, it is that this particular foreign relation doesn’t matter? Perhaps none of them do. Besides, Obama cannot be held responsible. As Americans, we have come to know that blame rolls off the presidency as if it were Teflon.
President Obama did call Merkel and apologized, for what we don’t know, but it couldn’t have been anything that blameless Obama would ever do. No one knows what the Chancellor’s response to Obama’s benign neglect was, or even if her response was benign at all. Spokesmen for both the White House and the Chancellor’s Office would not comment.
Such spying sent an arrow through the heart of German-American relations. The splinters of broken trust must remain. If Obama spoke the truth about not knowing, he looks like an incompetent of the highest order. If he knew of the spying, then he’s lying. Either way, the event speaks of the ways a weak leader operates, that is, without confidence or control of his own agencies with an apologetic façade that belies something more malignant going on.
Angela Merkel has been let down. The American people have been let down. Esteem for the nation has suffered and regard for our United States declines in the eyes of the international community.
Whether ignorance or arrogance drives such spikes in America’s respect in the world, our weakness among its members is showing. The pattern is repeated by Obama building an image of non-responsibility for anything that goes wrong. He portrays himself as working to solve these problems. And it works.
Wouldn’t we rather have someone of knowledge, competence, and integrity occupying the White House? Respect for power isn't built by irresponsible denials.