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Posted 6/05/13 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Anyone who has ever aspired to be a leader, be they in politics or business, knows that their credibility is everything. By definition, credibility means the quality of being believable or worthy of trust.
So by default, when someone tells others the truth and is forthright with information, they build upon their credibility. But when they beat around the bush, tell half-truths or outright lies, they damage their credibility and ultimately, will lose the trust of the people.
And it is the lack of being truthful and forthright with the American public by President Obama and his administration on three key issues that is now severely threatening the president’s credibility and could seriously jeopardize his effectiveness in his last years in office.
The first instance that Obama and his administration struggled with dealing truthfully with the American public was the Sept. 11 attack of the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador were killed. At first, the spin from the Obama White House and his staff was that the attack was the result of an anti-Muslim video. Since then it has become known that the attack was linked to terrorists in that country. And even now, in spite of Congressional hearings, no one in the administration is saying why U.S. military support was not provided during the attack or how involved the President of the United States was in the matters as they unfolded during the attack, or subsequently deciding what information would be provided to the public on this matter.
The second instance was the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status. Again, the initial reports coming out of the Obama administration were that it was a couple of rogue IRS agents in the Cincinnati, Ohio office who were responsible for holding up the applications for these groups or requesting information that should not have been asked, and that the president didn’t know anything about it until it was in the news. But as more information was being ferreted out, it appears that those earlier reports by the top officials in the IRS were again untrue. The Associated Press has now reported that according to a draft of an inspector general’s report, senior IRS officials, as early as 2011, knew that agents were targeting Tea Party groups. So once again, the question being asked by many people is how is it possible for the IRS to suddenly take it upon itself to target these groups without that information being shared with someone in the President’s administration?
The third, and most recent issue, was the Dept. of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press and Fox News reporters’ phone and email records in an effort to determine who was providing information of national interest to the news media. This seizure of information by a government agency is a direct assault on the First Amendment to the Constitution, which among other things, guarantees a free press. Without the ability of the press to freely ask questions and seek out the truth and to protect the identities of those people with whom they are interviewing, the government would in effect be able to tell the public only what they wanted. Which as we know, is not always the truth.
What should be troubling for all Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, is the apparent pattern by the Obama White House and his staff to want to keep the American public in the dark about what it is doing. If something good is happening, the White House is quick to run the news up the flag pole for everyone to see. But if something bad happens, they want to put a quick spin on the issue, blame someone else for it, or say they knew nothing about it. And then hope that no one questions their explanation.
That game plan work can work sometimes.
But when the lies and half-truths are finally made public, as President Obama is now finding out, his credibility, as well as the public’s confidence in everyone associated with him is severely damaged.
President Obama’s credibility has taken a serious hit and his administration is now in a full damage control mode. Unfortunately, the only thing that can prevent any further erosion of his credibility is him being absolutely truthful and honest with the American public. But, with Americans feeling burned three times in such a short period of time, he is going to have a very difficult time convincing anyone he is telling the truth the next time he is asked to explain why something went wrong in his administration.