Had Mitt Romney run a commercial last fall declaring that Barack Obama was an empty suit utterly preoccupied with playing golf and basketball who had no idea what his government was doing, the outrage would have been deafening.
Yet that is now what his own spokeman expects us to believe. He had no actual awareness of events in Benghazi or the talking points created in response to the terrible events there; when the IRS admits wrongdoing and apologizes, he's not really up to speed on it; a wide-ranging probe of Associated Press reporters eludes his attention and he'll have to read up on it.
Even his condemnations are weak - if events which have already been proven to have happened have in fact happened, he will condemn them. Of course.
While the press may be suddenly interested (no doubt because many fear that they, too, maybe under secret investigation), close observers find nothing new in these developments.
As far back as 2010, the president admitted he had no idea what was going on with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and had to find out who was responsible so he could kick their ass.
Fast and Furious also evaded his awareness - those guns apparently sold themselves to Mexican drug lords. Things happen. Mistakes were made. And Eric Holder remained his attorney general.
To the casual observer, this response makes no sense - it is well past its expiration date. An actual leader does not tolerate misbehavior on the part of his subordinates.
In a normal administration, the IRS administrator and AG would already have resigned in disgrace. The Secretary of State would have left under a cloud well before the inauguration.
But this is not a normal administration. It truly believes the rules don't apply. This is less a function of ambition or a hunger for power than a psychological viewpoint stemming from their social class.
Among the liberal gentry their is a belief that they are Good People and while Good People may make mistakes, it would be wrong to punish them for good faith efforts.
This is the exact opposite of Gen. Curtis Lemay's famous dictum that "I have neither the time nor the inclination to separate the incompetent from the merely unfortunate." Lemay - clearly the product of another, more serious, time - was interested in results, not intentions.
But in this jaded age, intentions are all that matter. This is why abortionists that kill live infants and their mothers cannot be given too much scrutiny. The result - dead children and harmed women - is less important than the intention - protecting abortion.
This also explains why the same administration that purposely sold guns to criminals can work itself into a frenzy in support of legislation that it admits will not stop violent crime. The intentions are pure, which is what counts.
As an added bonus, their enemies suffer. This 'punitive liberalism' defines policy victories not in terms of helping society but in crushing the opposition, and it is a key part of the administration's strategy.
It clearly influenced the IRS, which wasn't really interested about money in politics or the integrity of the law but what instead interested in punishing the right people. Former Obama staffer David Plouffe offered a revealing defense of this scandal by noting that all the abuse didn't really hurt anyone, so no big deal. I highly doubt if it could be proved that the abuse was effective and tipped the election that Plouffe would be more apologetic.
In the meantime, the administration is reduced to lamenting the fate of it's second term agenda - because apparently transforming the government is more important than running it. As I've noted before, conservatives are always looking for a tipping point where the media turns on a Democrat administration, and it never actually happens.
Still, I must admit that the combination of using the IRS as a political weapon and snooping secretly on reporters are two things that might actually move the needle. Most liberal reporters justify their devotion to the Democrats by arguing that as bad as things are, Republicans would be even worse, so better to take what they have.
At this point, only the most partisan can maintain that fiction. The press is now like an oft-abused spouse who has finally found out that the sweet nothings whispered after each beating really were lies. He really doesn't need them or really care about them. No one likes being used. We'll see how that plays out.