JACK SIMPSON: What is the state of our union?



When you go out into the community and talk to folks you meet, you get the impression that they think our country is in a “mell-of-a-hess.” We have problems with the economy, the health care system, gridlock in government, spying, the development of atomic weapons by others, wars and threats of wars. Piracy on the high seas, crooked politicians, and the list goes on and you know what kinds of crises are on the list!

Right now our President professes ignorance of some pretty important major issues. He says he is in the dark about bugging the phones of some of the world’s leaders. He creates the impression that there are government employees brave enough to bug phones of VIP’s without approval of the Commander in Chief. If true, Congress has some hearings to hold and some policies to review.

The President would have the American people believe he did not know in advance about the General David Petraeus’s affair, or the Fast and Furious guns on the border, or the Benghazi affairs. He claims not to know about the IRS targeting certain political groups or that the government was monitoring citizen emails and cell phone records. He is out of the loop.

President Obama promised that if people liked their health plan, they could keep it at lower rates. Thousands are facing a wave of cancellations and costs are rising. Existing policies do not meet standards mandated by Obamacare.

Voters feel that if their President truly did not know about all these things, then maybe he should mind the store instead of spending so much time on the campaign trail and on fundraising.

America’s problems are causing once strong relationships with other nations to weaken. Friendships lost may be hard to salvage. What took years to build is broken and must be mended.

It might be wise for the President to face the music, explain why spying was done, cease and desist, and keep promises made. Continue working on rebuilding lost trust. Be creditable. Get back into the loop and become informed. Those being spied upon didn’t fall off turnip trucks and probably consider the President’s plea of ignorance as less than creditable. If the President fesses up, ceases the bugging and lives up to promises, he might be able to re-establish sound relationships.

Clumsy bugging when considered by France, Brazil, Germany, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Saudis is seen with disrespect of the United States. Our national security is in trouble as these and other countries lose confidence and respect for our President.

Not only are other nations losing respect for President Obama, but think about how government employees must feel when their President casts them adrift as he distances himself from problems created by some of his decisions.

Senator Feinstein doesn’t approve of snooping on foreign friendly allies. Senator McCain wants Congress to examine U.S. eavesdropping practices. Everyone is curious as to why those so in the dark about our procedures haven’t been reading their briefing books and the gathered intelligence therein.

Of all people, government employees should be keenly aware of how sensitive eavesdropping is and most particularly if done on a friendly ally. A President must know what is going on in his White House.

As of now, President Obama has not lived up to promises and his pledge for openness in government. He has delivered secrecy and a mess. Hope he truly can bring people friendly change. Hope he can increase his approval ratings.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.