Politicians and pundits discussed Sunday whether or not President Barack Obama deserves blame for the recent scandals involving the Generals Services Administration and Secret Service. There was near unanimous agreement that Obama could not have anticipated the Secret Service scandal, but conservatives were divided on whether or not he should be criticized for the GSA scandal.
It would be a mistake, Bill Kristol warned Republicans on "Fox News Sunday," to try to pin the blame for the GSA and Secret Service scandals on Obama. Kristol, a Republican, is editor of The Weekly Standard.
Referring to the scandals as a "government problem" rather than a "President Obama problem," Kristol explained, "this election will be much more about policy going forward than particular scandals that have happened."
Karl Rove, who headed President George W. Bush's campaigns in 2000 and 2004, agreed, saying it would be a "big mistake" for Republicans to try and turn the scandals into an election issue.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) believes, though, that while Obama is not culpable in the Secret Service scandal, he should be held accountable for the GSA scandal. Collins' conclusion is based upon the fact that Obama appointed Martha Johnson, who stepped down last week, to head the GSA, and Johnson received a report from the Inspector General last year warning of spending problems at the agency.
"In the case of GSA, the administration clearly bears responsibility because the head of that agency received an alert from the Inspector General way last year that there were problems and took no action," Collins said in a Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week." "That is different [from the Secret Service scandal]. She was a member of the president's administration. She deserved to be fired and the president is responsible in that case."
Conservative columnist George Will said, on "This Week," it was "unfair to blame Barack Obama," but used the occasion to launch a critique of "big government," saying, "although people think he controls the executive branch, no one controls the executive branch. That's part of the problem with big government, is that there's no leash strong enough to hold it."
While Will said Obama should not be blamed directly, he does see negative consequences for the Democratic Party as a result of the GSA scandal.
"Beyond that, there is going to be political ramification, because the party in power believes that the federal government needs more money, should control our lives more, should be trusted with more and more of the gross national product of the country. Whereas, what you see with the GSA is that there's few pleasures as intense as spending other people's money, that's why people run for Congress," Will joked.
The GSA scandal involved lavish spending within the agency on hotels and conferences for employees. With the Secret Service scandal, officers were partying and soliciting prostitutes ahead of Obama's trip to Colombia. News of both scandals broke this month.