President Obama is presiding over a corrupt administration. In fact, the moral rot renders America an international laughingstock. Mr. Obama has created a political culture of arrogance and abuse of power that is infecting every segment of the federal government.
The U.S. Secret Service is a case in point. Hookergate has shaken the agency to its very foundations. Secret Service agents went wild in Cartagena, Colombia, prior to a recent summit attended by Mr. Obama and other world leaders. A dozen agents and more than 10 military personnel have been implicated so far. Bar hopping, boozing and soliciting prostitutes — all of this took place as the Secret Service was supposed to be laying the groundwork for the president’s arrival. Instead, they behaved like puerile frat boys, taking hookers back to their hotel rooms and partying all night long. Some press reports even claim that cocaine use was involved.
The Secret Service was once a venerated institution; its reputation is now in tatters. These agents were more than unprofessional. They engaged in sexually permissive, immoral and illegal behavior. They also put America’s national security at risk, opening them to potential blackmail. The president’s schedule was in one of the rooms attended by a prostitute. Moreover, as Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, has rightly pointed out, what if the hookers were acting as spies for a hostile foreign power such as Russia, China or Iran? The agents had become compromised, and could be leveraged to obtain vital intelligence information.
Moreover, the image it sends to the world is that of the ugly American. Decadent, perverse and arrogant — these Secret Service agents embody the worst traits of U.S. culture. Landing on foreign soil, they behaved as a conquering imperial army, lacking self-restraint, humility or even common decency.
Yet, the question must be asked: Is Mr. Obama to blame? This is not the first Secret Service scandal under his watch. Rather than cleaning house, he turned a blind eye to the growing venality within the agency. Mark Sullivan, the director of the Secret Service, has not been fired. There is no real accountability. Some agents have been forced to resign, but the larger culture of corruption remains.
The same applies to the General Services Administration. The GSA is supposed to be a centralized clearinghouse for the federal government to oversee its numerous buildings, ensuring the best value in the use of taxpayer dollars. It has become the very opposite — a symbol of waste, fraud and extravagance. Think about this: For one conference alone in Las Vegas in 2010 the GSA spent more than $820,000. Its employees’ behavior would have shamed even Colombian drug lords. No expense was spared as GSA officials partied, along with their spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends. Mind readers, clowns, expensive champagne, shrimp cocktails, gourmet meals, and luxurious hotel suites with hot tubs overlooking the city — all of this was on the taxpayers’ dime. It was not a conference, but a huge swindle. Jeff Neely, the GSA honcho responsible for much of the excess, has refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation. Instead, he has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Having plundered the public coffers, he now hides behind the law.
The sad fact is that the GSA scandal is the tip of the iceberg. The deeper congressional investigators look, the more waste is found. Trips to Hawaii, Guam, the South Pacific and Napa Valley — lavish “conferences” are simply part of the GSA’s regular business operations. It is like a rotten onion. Peel one layer and there is another beneath it.
All of this has been allowed to go on for years because they are symptoms of a deeper sickness: big government liberalism. The expansion of the state fosters massive corruption and graft; it is a political law of nature. Washington has trillions of dollars sloshing around every year. This kind of temptation is too much for most people, who want a slice of the pie. They want to enjoy the wealth, perks and privileges the government has to offer. It is why in 40 years Washington has been transformed from a sleepy little town into a bureaucrat-infested, swollen Leviathan. Lord Acton famously said, “Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” He could have been talking about the Obama administration.
Contrary to the media’s narrative, Mr. Obama is presiding over one of the most scandal-ridden presidencies in U.S. history. His orgy of spending has become a breeding ground for parasites and political hustlers who are bleeding America white. It has created a toxic atmosphere of entitlement, contempt and arrogance among public officials. The nearly $1 trillion stimulus, Obamacare, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the auto bailouts, secret Medicare slush funds, the constant and ostentatious vacations by the Obamas, and the nonstop parties in the White House — they characterize an out-of-control regime that regards politics simply as a form of self-aggrandizement and maximizing power. The people be damned.
If the commander-in-chief is always partying on the taxpayers’ tab, then why should his subordinates behave any differently — whether at the Secret Service or the GSA? That’s the real scandal.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.