Count me as irritable on the subject, but President Obama's imperious habit of suggesting that American diplomats work for him is offensive to democratic sensibilities.
In the second presidential debate last fall, when the Benghazi matter came up, the president responded: "Well, let me ... talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation [sic]. And these aren't just representatives of the United States; they're my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm's way. I know these folks, and I know their families. So nobody's more concerned about their safety and security than I am." (I wish Candy Crowley had asked what the names of the four dead Americans were. But, as we discovered, she had other plans that night.)
Last week during a press conference, the president again described the murdered Americans as "people I sent into the field." White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer, emphasizing the president's deep concern, noted, "This is a horrible tragedy, people that he sent abroad whose lives are at risk, people who work for him."
No. Ambassadors and other officers of the Foreign Service represent the United States of America. They are not the personal envoys of Barack H. Obama. British ambassadors technically represent the Queen of England. The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. is the personal representative of the King. Memo to the White House: We are not a monarchy.
The president invites us to conclude that his "my diplomats" language is proof of his passionate concern for their welfare. But there's more than a whiff of protesting too much in the president's comments and those of his spokesman. Pfeiffer went so far as to label questions about what the president did on the night of Sept. 11, 2012 as "offensive." Bristling at a question from Chris Wallace about whether the president was in the Situation Room that night, Pfeiffer huffed, "The assertions from Republicans that the president didn't take action is offensive."
When Wallace persisted with "I'm simply asking a question: Where was he? What did he do? How did he respond?" Pfeiffer could say only, "The president was in the White House that day, kept up to date by his national security team, spoke to the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier, secretary of state and as events unfolded he was kept up to date."
Taking offense, or pretending to, is a favorite tactic of this White House, but let's understand it for what it is -- a combination of bullying and evading responsibility.