July 10, 2013

In case you weren’t already discouraged about the conduct of our Obama-led government, please see Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s front-page article in today’s Washington Post “For critics of military spending, a monument.” What a grotesque example of government waste. U.S. tax dollars paid for a gold-plated headquarters in Afghanistan that American military commanders didn’t want and the Afghan Army can’t use. Not to mention, the work done and the profits realized from the contract did not go to an American — or even an Afghan — company.

President Obama promised a new and improved war in Afghanistan when he ran for office. Well, when he said this would be the right war, he must not have meant there would be peace in Afghanistan, or that there would be an allied government in place in Kabul. He also apparently didn’t mean that commanders on the ground could decide what they needed or that there would be adult control over the treasure that is being pumped into Afghanistan.

It appears we’re leaving Afghanistan, regardless of whether or not there is peace in the country. There’s no argument to be made that the Karzai government is our ally, and it has been widely reported that the Karzai-Obama relationship is officially broken. And now there’s this, at the same time that President Obama is declaring that his smart government will be made “ever smarter.”

Having served in the White House myself, I am sympathetic to the notion that things can happen in government that may offend common sense, and there is no one to blame but “the system.” And who knows, maybe someday months from now, there will be a report that says, while the government’s actions were insane, they were perfectly in line with all the required regulations, rules, checks and balances. It was just obviously the wrong thing to do, and it was impossible to stop.

But this $34 million building — which will likely just be demolished as the United States prepares to leave Afghanistan — is beyond the pale. The same Obama White House that cries bloody murder over every sequester cut and continually highlights examples of the negative impacts of the sequester — right down to how many vegetable dishes will go missing from kids’ Head Start meals — can’t avoid spending $34 million on a building that no one will ever inhabit, in a war zone where the president has near dictatorial authority.

This is the kind of thing that enrages voters. It confirms what they suspect about the government’s inefficiency and the contempt the bureaucracy has for them and their tax dollars. Undoubtedly the White House will promise a speedy investigation to get to the bottom of how this atrocity occurred. Well, I hope it’s not the same people who are tasked with getting to the bottom of the IRS harassment of conservative groups, or the same people who are in charge of bringing to justice any one of the dozens of belligerents caught on videotape at the scene of the crime where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi.

You get my point. The revelation about this wasteful building in Afghanistan comes less than 48 hours after President Obama announced the new Management Agenda for Government Innovation for an “ever smarter, more innovative, more accountable government.”

This would be a punchline if it weren’t so painfully true. And get this: The president actually said on Monday when he announced this initiative that, “we’ve identified new ways to reduce waste and save taxpayers money . . . taxpayers deserve the biggest bang for their buck, especially at a time when budgets are tight and we’ve got to do a lot more with less.” I wonder if the cover page of his “ever smarter” Management Agenda for Government Innovation includes an asterix and a footnote that says “ever smarter” doesn’t apply to the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare and now, the management of the war in Afghanistan.

This is just one more example of the Obama presidency not meeting expectations and, by extension, illustrating the failure of the Democrats to effectively govern. All of this adds to the voters’ picture of a government that is more unresponsive, out-of-control and arrogant than ever.