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About Responsibility

January 11, 2010

President Obama has apparently “taken responsibility” for the security problems that made it possible for a terrorist to get aboard a US-bound passenger aircraft and almost set off a bomb.

But he didn’t.

I’m not going to try to parse the political speech. I don’t mean that at all. Instead, I want to point out that when a politician says he will take responsibility for something, he’s almost always lying. I can’t believe he doesn’t understand the word.

I tried to look up the word responsibility in online dictionaries. I ended up chasing my tail about what constitutes being responsible or accountable. Finally, I got this one for responsible: “liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties.”

Now, I’m not saying there should be legal review of the process in which Obama should pay a penalty. But I guess this comes closest to what I believe responsibility means – the person responsible for something is willing to pay a price for his acts, or those of someone for which he is responsible. If a football coach says the actions of his team are his responsibility, then if they are unsuccessful, he has said he is willing to pay a price – being fired and so forth.

My point is that most people do not get to the penalty stage. They say they take responsibility but assume that lip service is all that is necessary. If you are driving drunk and you kill a pedestrian, you pay a penalty, do you not? In that case, you are responsible for your actions as a driver. If the parent of a high school student says he is responsible for his child, is he willing to go to jail for the actions of the child? Will he be willing to pay for the loss of property for due to acts of his child?

I hear this responsibility stuff from “leaders” all the time. “The buck stops here.” Except Harry Truman meant it, I think, and Obama doesn’t. President Bush took responsibility for the 9/11 attacks by not only making sure the families of victims were compensated – leaving out the discussion of what is appropriate compensation for the loss of a family member for now – but also by attacking the root causes of the attack by going to Afghanistan and Iraq to apprehend and kill members of Al Qaeda. You may debate his effectiveness, but not his sense of responsibility – the attempt to make something right after things went wrong.

What is Obama going to do? More bureaucratic BS. Nothing having to do with getting at the root causes of Muslim terrorism. We know what they are. In the last nine years a tremendous amount of information has been gathered at why these people are doing what they do, where they are doing it and how they are funded. Some things have been done to thwart them. Other things have not.

Analogy time. Every weekend, one house on the block seems to have a gathering of high-school age kids. Lots of loud music, maybe a little drug use, maybe some pot, a lot of alcohol. Every few weeks one of those kids drives away from the party and hits something – a lamppost, a parked car, a person, something. Once maybe a pedestrian was killed. That kid has to take responsibility for his actions, paying for the damage (OK, maybe his insurance company pays, but there are criminal penalties as well). Different kid each time, but each is coming from the same party.

Now, the police have three ways of handling this. One: post police cars on the street on either side of the house. When a kid leaves, follow him and see if he seems to be drunk. If he is, stop him and arrest him for DUI. Two: post drunk-driving screening checkpoints on all the other streets in town, and stop all the adults to see if they are driving drunk. Three: go break up the party at the house and make sure they don’t hold one next week.

Choice one at least might stop the next potential terrorist – if the intelligence folks really are doing their jobs. It takes constant vigilance, and a lot of manpower. Choice two takes even more of both, and pisses off the innocent people while doing absolutely nothing to help eliminate the problem. (That’s the TSA, for those of you who don’t get analogies.) Choice three is the one we don’t have the gonads to do.

So Obama’s taking responsibility for nothing – at least, nothing that will change anything. He wouldn’t do that, ever. Go after the Middle East? Not him. Bush had a hard enough time getting that past the congresscritters, and he never tried to suck up to Middle Eastern leaders the way Obama has.

How about this – If we have another problem with a terrorist like the Christmas Day incident, Obama and all his people, all the way down through intelligence, TSA, whatever, that had anything to do trying to prevent this, are fired. Immediately. That’s taking responsibility.

Think that would happen? Me neither.

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