Measure the Obama administration by actions, not words

Transparency was going to be “the touchstone” of his administration, President Obama promised as he took office.

Actually, he did more than promise. He boasted. His administration was going to be different. Washington was broken. He was going to fix it with leadership that was different.

A little more than four years later, we wonder where all the transparency went.

Four Americans, including an ambassador, are killed in Benghazi. Eight months, we still don’t know what the president was doing that night, why a false story was paraded in front of the American people as the cause, and who gave orders for soldiers to stand down rather than intervene in the attack.

The phone records of 100 and growing reporters and staffers of The Associated Press are probed over a news story that five staffers worked on. The emails of a Fox News reporter and his parents are pulled over another news story. He is charged with criminal espionage for doing his job.

The Internal Revenue Service, it is found, spotlighted conservative groups only to stall their attempts at tax-exempt status, not so coincidentally, during the presidential campaign season.

We are Americans first, not Republicans, Democrats or other political affiliations.

And Americans should know, from any administration, why four of their own were killed in an attack on their embassy months after officials were warned it lacked security.

And Americans from any administration should not have to put up with challenges to the freedom of its press when that is, in reality, the real “touchstone” that sets this country apart from almost all others.

We should not have to put up with from any administration “enemies list” activities from the IRS.

The rationales from administration officials regarding these activities have been dubious, defiant and arrogant.

President Obama is a great speechmaker by almost anyone’s standard. But as the transgressions mount, the speeches mean less because the actions of his administration contrast so starkly with the words. It does no good to claim the war on terror is subsiding when there are incidents of terror popping up everywhere, including within our nation’s boundaries.

It does no good to verbally champion the First Amendment while the AP and Fox News are being recklessly invaded.

It does no good to claim everyone needs to have a fair shot while a particular sector of the political spectrum is blocked from the same rights that others easily obtain.

The president claims to not know of these things until they are in the past tense, though we find some of that incredibly hard to believe. If that’s really the case, he has lost control of the country he was elected to manage. If he is more involved than he is letting on, all of us, regardless of political persuasion, should feel betrayed.

Neither scenario is anything but unsettling.