June 3, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: The Mismeasure of Management: The perils of progressivism run deeper than Obama.

“For a president who came to office hoping to restore public faith in government as a force for good in society, the mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs threatens to undercut his reputation for effectiveness,” writes New York Times reporter Peter Baker in a “news analysis.”

That’s a little like describing the Monica Lewinsky scandal as a blemish on Bill Clinton’s reputation for marital fidelity. Yet while the premise that Barack Obama ever had a “reputation for effectiveness” is dubious, there has never been such broad agreement about his ineffectiveness–specifically, about the poor quality of government management under his presidency.

The VA scandal, observes CNN’s Gloria Borger, “is just the latest in a slew of bureaucratic messes that strike at the core power point of the Obama presidency. . . .

That said, what Borger delicately calls “the IRS controversy” was not a case of inept management but of the corrupt use of government power. Its purpose was the suppression of Obama’s political opponents. To the extent that it accomplished this aim, Obama’s re-election looks even less like a triumph of effective management.

He has turned out to be worse — both in terms of competence and ethics — than even most of his critics expected. And less constrained by our alleged guardians of freedom in the press.