Make no mistake – the Scandalrama that has erupted in DC represents new fronts in the Culture War. Two fronts to be exact.
The breadth and scope pf the scandals indicate that this is not a few individuals going rogue. Think of the number of agencies that we have heard about in the last two weeks that have been involved in corrupt, or at least unethical practices. IRS leads the pack, but the DOJ, State, EPA, HHS and many others have come up with one problem or another. THAT is a cultural problem within the government.
There is an important lesson that can be learned from this – Culture matters more than issues. This is why litmus tests don’t work. You see, I have no doubt that Obama knew little of all this garbage going in. That does not make him any less culpable, I just think it accentuates his bad management and makes his sins ones of omission, not commission. I think it is pretty easy to form an image of the president has having hired all his cronies, let them go, and then going off to play golf, assuming the dimbulbs he hired had things well in hand. I have no doubt everyone he hired was a card-carrying, ticket-punching liberal activist that hit the issue list just right. But they clearly did not know beans about how to run a government. (Politics and a campaign they knew how to do in spades, but not governance.)
Consider the latest response to come out of the White House:
Struggling to find his footing after one of the most turbulent weeks in office, President Obama’s aides have ordered the White House staff to spend no more than 10 percent of their time on controversies, Mark Landler and Michael D. Shear report. Democratic strategists are now working on a plan to intensify the administration’s focus on revamping immigration laws, reaching a budget deal and implementing the new health care legislation.
That is not leadership, that is accounting (10% of their time indeed!) and optics. That approach is denial of the problem, not an effort to change the culture within the executive branch of the government.
As those of us of faith approach the culture war it is important that we see this clearly. The culture war is not primarily about abortion and same sex marriage, it’s about a culture where such things do not rise to the level of being issues, just as the corrupt practices of the Obama administration should never have been issues to begin with. That means we of faith need to learn how to lead the nation, not just complain about its wrong turns. Which leads me to the second front…
One of the questions that has been niggling in the back of my mind for the last week has been, “Where are the careerists?” The government is full of employees for whom this is a career, not a political appointment. Think of those that testified about Benghazi, they were pros, not appointees. Where are such people in the IRS?
Now, I am guessing based on yesterday’s testimony, that there were some structural hide-and-seek going on. Miller yesterday tried to hide behind a claim that these applications were grouped for “efficiency.” I have little doubt that was the internal claim of the agency. I would suspect that the unit that got these grouped claims was staffed almost entirely by appointees, not career types, and thus they were able to ply their intimidation trade without much scrutiny or counter force. But even such structural steps would be extraordinary and should have drawn some outcry from the career types.
Why did that not happen? Well, for one, I have little doubt that the federal employee unions were pretty active. But more importantly, I think it is because those career types did not have sufficiently developed character to see this for the problem that it was and then to stand and take the risks involved in crying out. I think a few may yet appear now that they can count on Congressional cover, but someone should have come forward a long time ago as far as I am concerned. (Of course what we do not yet know is whether someone DID go forward to, say, the White House where their complaints were greeted with complacency. Yet another sin of omission.)
This is why the “religious test” that was so clearly and unambiguously applied to these applications is so stunningly awful. You see, if religion can be relegated into some box that reads “only for Sunday morning worship” then people of the character that would have come forward won’t exist at all, anywhere. Such ethics and courage do not grow in the wild; they must be cultivated. Religion is one of the few forces in our nation that does such cultivation – at least it should.
The primary front on the culture war is the one where we continue to cultivate and fight for our right to do such cultivation. If we do that then abortion and same sex marriage will be forgone conclusions, not issues at all. If we do that then when the inevitable corrupt influences creep into government, people will be in place that will do what is necessary to keep that corruption from becoming endemic.