David Axelrod: Don’t Blame Obama; Government Is Just Too Big

David Axelrod is a former senior adviser to the Obama administration and former top aide to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Now, he’s a political consultant who appears on NBC and MSNBC. I’m not sure if this is a step up or a step down. Maybe it’s about the same.

He was responding to a question from Joe Scarborough about the IRS scandal. He said that you can’t really blame Obama, because you can’t expect him to know about everything that goes on beneath him. The government’s just too big:

 “It’s an interesting case study, because if you look at the inspector general’s report, apparently some folks down in the bureaucracy – you know we have a large government – took it upon themselves to shorthand these applications for tax-exempt status in a way that was, as I said, idiotic and also dangerous, because of the political implications. One prima facie evidence that no one political was involved is that if anyone political were involved in this, they would say, “Are you kidding me? Are you nuts? What are you doing? What are you doing?” When you’re president of the United States – and I’m a faithful watcher of your show, and I’ve listened to the discussion over the last couple of days – and part of being president is, there’s so much beneath you, that you can’t know, because government’s so vast.”

 Of course, he’s not arguing in opposition to big government. He’s giving the President a pass. Corruption is just the unfortunate reality that accompanies a massive government.

What he’s saying is true. The government is too big. That’s what conservatives have been saying for decades. No one can possibly manage it. No president, no matter what party can be expected to know everything that goes on beneath him. This isn’t to excuse Obama. Even given the remote possibility that he wasn’t directly involved with any of the exposed scandals, what really matters is how he’s going to react.

Conservatives are rightly going to use these scandals as evidence that we need to scrap whole federal departments. We know that these cases are hardly isolated. Government corruption is the norm. It’s just that these few cases got leaked.

Liberals will use these scandals to show that there might be a few bad apples in government, but that in general, with enough “generous” funding, everything runs fairly and smoothly. A couple “rogue” IRS agents are to blame, and the IRS commissioner was right to take the fall (even though he was going to resign anyway next month).

I don’t think we can fathom how gigantic our government is. Maybe it’s gotten so big that the corruption and scandals can no longer be contained. They’re bulging out at the seams. Whatever the case, the Obama administration is sure making a strong case for smaller government.