Victor Davis Hanson

Clinton infamously dismissed the lingering mysteries surrounding the Benghazi deaths with, "What difference at this point does it make?" She also refused, despite numerous entreaties, to place the now-infamous Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram on a State Department terrorist watch list.

Eric Holder is the first attorney general to have been held in contempt of Congress. Aside from his divisive language (he called America "a nation of cowards" and referred to African-Americans as "my people"), Holder always seems to find himself at the center of scandals. He permitted the federal monitoring of the Associated Press journalists. He green-lighted the Fast and Furious gun-running scam. He has failed to bring to account rogue IRS officials. Holder is the most morally compromised attorney general since Nixon appointee John Mitchell.

Do we remember former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson? Her case was as unprofessional as it was surreal. Jackson fabricated for herself an alternate identity as a midlevel EPA employee. In communications, she used a fake e-mail address and name, and then unethically honored her own alter ego ("Richard Windsor") as a "scholar of ethical behavior." Who could have dreamed up such an unethical caper?

What has happened to NASA? We are currently trying to isolate Vladimir Putin for his territorial aggressions and yet beseeching the Russians to send our astronauts into space. Perhaps NASA Administrator Charles Bolden should not have boasted that one of NASA's "foremost" goals was "to reach out to the Muslim world" and "to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering." Americans might have preferred Bolden stuck with rockets.

Former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu left under a cloud of controversy involving crony capitalists getting millions of dollars in green loans that produced nothing but failed companies. Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis slipped out of office, battling accusations of Hatch Act violations and freebie rides on private jets from insider union friends. Former top officials such as Timothy Geithner, Peter Orszag and Larry Summers have given new meaning to the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House.

The common denominator?

In all of these cases, politics trumped ethics. Because Obama professed that he was on the side of the proverbial people, administrators assumed that they had a blank check to do or say what they wished without much media audit. The mystery is not whether some administration officials were incompetent or unethical or both, but whether there are any left who are not.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.


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