Oct 152012

This is not how one takes responsibility. Clinton is saying she doesn’t know what happened, but she takes responsibility. In other words, nobody is responsible.

“I take responsibility” for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.

via Clinton: I’m responsible for diplomats’ security – CNN Security Clearance – CNN.com Blogs.

One way to actually take responsibility would have been to say something like this:  “It’s my fault that security was inadequate.  It was my office that denied the requests for additional security. I am seeing to it that the persons who made those decisions will no longer be employed by the government.  Those that misled the White House will be dealt with more harshly yet.”

Or if she personally made the decisions to deny security and to mislead the White House, then she should resign. That, too, would be a way of taking responsibility.

If she really and truly is waiting the results of the investigation, she could say she will take responsibility to punish those who were unlucky enough to make wrong decisions, once those people are identified.

But she didn’t say there would be any consequences for bad decisions.

And it doesn’t take a fact-finding commission to find out who fed the White House with bad information. Low-level functionaries don’t get to do that.

I hate to say it, but it was my hero, Saint Ronald, who started this business of “taking responsibility” in a way that made nobody responsible. In 1983, after the bombing of Marine quarters in Lebanon, President Reagan said, “I was responsible and no one else for our policy and our people being there. I’m not going to deliver somebody’s head up on a platter, which seems to be the request of so many when things like this happen.”

If memory serves, at least a few conservative pundits called this for what it was – a way to abdicate responsibility.  Reagan didn’t take responsibility for managing his personnel, and we are still dealing with the consequences of that failure.

Tuesday addendum: Before I lose it, here is a link to a 1983 news article about Reagan’s “taking responsibility” for the Beirut bombing.