Competence is the issue

Back in the early 1980s, a former supervisor in Glenn County, Calif., remarked about his successor on the Board of Supervisors:

“I’ve taught him everything I know,” Ralph Colbert said, “and he still doesn’t know anything.”

Colbert’s comments would seem to be appropriate now when looking at the White House’s reactions to the crises swirling around it about National Security Agency spying, Obamacare and the Middle East.

Certainly, the White House maintains steadfastly that the president didn’t know about’s glitches until the website went live. Likewise, they say the president didn’t know the NSA was tracking allied leaders’ cellphones.

How can the president not have been checking on the Affordable Care Act’s website progression? It is the signature achievement of his administration.

How can he have not known German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was tapped by our security agency? She is so upset by the revelations she wants a study done of Europe’s cooperation with the U.S.

Our longtime ally Saudi Arabia is distressed by Washington’s wavering performance in Syria. Israel is threatening to bomb Iran as it seemingly marches toward nuclear weapon capabilities. Both countries are asking where U.S. leadership in the area is.

For years the Obama administration has held George W. Bush up as a symbol of incompetence. If that is true, like Colbert’s successor, the president has lately raised (or lowered?) the bar W set.

The administration needs to get its act together and begin performing like the well-oiled machine that got the president elected twice. That degree of competence and attention to detail is lacking now.

The next time a reporter asks what the president thinks about a crisis, the answer cannot be, “He didn’t know about it.”

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.