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Hear No Evil, Etc.

Bill Neinast


This is a hard decision.  What is the best opening cliche for today?

“The buck does not stop here; heck, it does not even get here,” fit last week’s news perfectly.  This week is different.  There are just too many pithy descriptions of what is going on. 

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil might describe some of the displays at news conferences and in Congressional hearings.  All this questionable activity at the State and Justice Departments and the IRS came as a complete surprise to the upper echelons of the government.

Who?  Me? Could also apply.  None of these things were important enough to be brought to the attention of the White House.  The disaster at Benghazi just was not a photo op for the President to be seen in serious contemplation of whether to send help.

President Bill Clinton’s “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” also comes to mind.  How about the meaning of “if” as in the statements of President Obama and other administration spokespersons that “if” the acknowledged facts in a number of fire storms are established as facts, the situation could be serious. 

What about the most transparent administration in history promised by Barack Obama in his first run for the White House?  Last week was consumed by reporters, investigators, and Congress trying to peel back the dark shades shielding the Justice, Treasury, and State Departments, among others.

The worm turns could certainly apply to the press finally beginning to hold Obama under the spotlight.

The worm turned, in part, because the Obama administration bit the hand that feeds it.   A compliant press had been feeding the administration all the fawning praise it could wish for.  Then it was disclosed that the Justice Department secretly monitored the Associated Press’ phone logs and those of about 20 reporters.  That was too much for most of the press, and the hand with the food was jerked back.

Two old timers, however, are at the top of the list today.  That would be the Nixon years and “What did he know, and when did he know it?”  Right behind that is Schultz, who just might provide the best cliche.

Remember Sergeant Schultz in the TV series “Hogan’s Heroes” in the 60s and 70s?  One of his most often repeated lines was, “I see nothing, nothing.”

The sergeant’s fat jowls come to mind every time Attorney General Holder and Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller are shown testifying before a Congressional committee.

They have answered “I don’t know” so many times that next time around they might automatically mouth that response when asked to identify themselves. 

Miller actually said, “I don’t know,” when asked to identify the person he said he had talked with about a certain matter.  After being pressed with two more questions about that person’s identity, he finally did identify her.

Likewise, Holder played dumb repeatedly on questions about the things he had been summoned to testify about.  Watching his evasive “I don’t knows” to questions on subjects that he should have inquired about before going to the hill stretched my credulity. 

If Hillary Clinton is subpoenaed to testify again about Benghazi, “I don’t know.  I saw nothing, nothing,” should be anticipated as the prevailing answer.  That, however, would not be an appropriate response to questions about her derisive earlier tirade of, “What does it matter now?”

A good bet might be that, if she deviates from “I don’t know,” her responses will include, “It’s the Republican’s fault.  They cut the budget and we did not have the money to beef up security.”  

Although that response would fly in the face of the sworn testimony of the State Department Official who made the decisions on security that money constraints were not the reason for denying the requests for more security.

Topping off the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil cabal has to be President Obama.  It took real chutzpah for him to maintain a straight face like Sergeant Schultz when he told the American public that, “I saw [knew] nothing, nothing” of an IRS Inspector General investigation of his IRS playing politics until he read it in the news.

So here’s the perspective.

Two occurrences last week indicate clearly that none of the above should be cause for concern.

First, Sarah Hall Ingram, the so called low level IRS supervisor in charge of the section harassing conservative groups seeking tax exempt status, was given a bonus and promoted to be in charge of the section that will monitor compliance with Obamacare insurance mandates. Certainly a person of that character would not condone auditing a business that claims exemption from insuring its employees.

Next, Attorney General Holder recused himself from participating in the investigation by his subordinates of why the phone lines of the AP and its reporters were monitored.

Those two events made this search for the right cliche a lot easier.  Nothing could be more appropriate than closing with the oldie about the fox guarding the hen house door.