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The Accountability Charade

Written on Monday, November 21, 2011 by

Congress hearing on the investigation of Solyndra bankrupt after receiving the loan

You can’t spell “accountability” without “A,” “C” and “T.” But in Washington, government officials routinely get away with “taking personal responsibility” by mouthing empty words devoid of action. Heads nod in collective agreement that mistakes were made. But heads never roll. The Obama administration has raised this accountability charade to an art form.

At a House Energy Committee hearing on the half-billion-dollar bankrupt Solyndra loan-guarantee disaster, Energy Secretary Steven Chu made a grand pretense of falling on his sword. The neon-green solar energy zealot told lawmakers in prepared testimony that the “final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind.” But again and again, Chu admitted, those decisions were made with serial cluelessness about the political jockeying, dire financial warnings, legal red flags and conflicts of interest that “everybody (else) and their dog” knew about (as GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas politely pointed out).

While former Democratic chief inquisitor Henry Waxman praised Chu’s “reputation for integrity” as “unimpeachable,” Chu came across as more Mr. Magoo than Mr. Clean.

Chu said he was “unaware” of the Department of Energy’s own staff predictions two years ago that Solyndra would face a serious cash-flow crisis today.

Chu said he was “unaware” of administration pressure on Solyndra to suppress layoff announcements until after the November 2010 midterm elections. “I don’t know. I just learned about that,” he shirked.

In fact, he used the phrase “I am aware of it now” at least a half-dozen times. If there were a Nobel Prize for Unknowing, Chu would be two-time shoo-in. GOP House Energy Committee Chairman Cliff Stearns summed up:

“We talked about the August 2009 email predicting Solyndra would be out of cash in September 2011. You knew about that, but you didn’t seem to know about that.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers concerns about Solyndra, you didn’t seem real concerned or weren’t aware of it.

The White House emailing your chief of staff regarding their concerns with the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, you didn’t seem to know too much about your chief of staff’s awareness of that.

The request to hold off announcement of the DOE loan, and request by your agency to Solyndra to hold off on announcing layoffs till after the midterm election, you don’t have any recollection of this. So what I am saying is that through all of this you seem to have an unawareness.”

In short, Chu took full responsibility for everything he wasn’t aware of … until it was too late.

Sound familiar? It was the leitmotif played in last week’s Fast and Furious hearings with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Despite a raft of briefing memos with his name on them, Holder claimed he never received or read them. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ran interference, sanctimoniously explaining for all the non-career government attorneys in the audience — including the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — that nooooooo one in the top echelons of the federal lawyers’ bureaucracy actually reads memos addressed to them. It’s merely a “convention” for junior staff to feel better and more important about themselves.

Taking his boss’s lead, former Holder Chief of Staff Kevin Ohlson — who is seeking a federal judicial slot — explained away his failure to do anything about the festering Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. He had “been informed that routine courtesy copies of weekly reports were forwarded to me that referred to the operation by name, but that did not provide any operational details and did not refer to gun walking or anything similar.”

Although his name was on the documents, Ohlson just didn’t bother to read them because they weren’t marked important or sensitive. Imagine an ordinary small businessman or taxpayer trying that one out on the IRS.

_Situational unawareness in the private marketplace or on the battlefield will cost you your livelihood or your life. In the Age of Obama, however, such willful ignorance is a job prerequisite. The less you know the better.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is


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  • ed0693

    Sounds like they are all quick studies, it’s not my fault it’s those nasty repubs, it’s not my fault it’s the evil rich. Good article.

  • R. Cook

    It is called Plausible deniability. If something is idiotic the guys in charge purposfully tell underlings to not give them details so they can deny knowledge when the fecal matter hits the fan. I hear it is an art form in Washington DC.

  • floramae

    My personal opinion is, the demoncrats plus odumbo, couldn’t spell cat, if we spotted them the C and the T. no one is is taking responsibility for anything, this obdumbo’s watch now, he is supposed to be head of state, but he has passed that on to his demoncratic senate, then blame the repubs for failure, just for votes, not to worry some of the repubs could use jacking up too, but I’m sure as h!ll not voting for a demoncrat to prove a point!!! I want my country back from the commie/marxit dude.

  • Thomas Beckett

    “Accountability charade” is exactly what obama administration is doing. I believe that amidst their communist totalitarian attempted takeover of the USA, that they keep asking for more money so they can do as they please with it. In other words they just steal it and give it to their friends and allies. They are in the White House to overthrow America if they can. I believe they will fail, but it is my wish they will all be punished severely for disrespecting us as American citizens who voted for them and trusted them.

    • Michael

      What goes around comes around!

    • Evermyrtle

      Seems that everything is going and nothing is coming but trouble. Very poor return!!

    • http://lowcountry Evermyrtle

      Censored, again

    • Ed

      The “Accountability Charade” resides squarely in the heart and mind of the American voter. Period. Vote for clowns, and you get to live at the circus. Fire these clowns, or shut up and live with it…


  • Ford

    Solyndra was never designed to manufacture a useful product at a competitive price. It did what it was deigned to do, leave the taxpayers holding the bag.

    • jim 28th reg.

      Ford-you forgot funnel many$$$$ back to the Democrats out there in Americas largest circus. The saddest part is no-one is entertained by these clowns not even their children , at least some of their relatives are beginning to wonder why they’re turning against the people that elected them.

  • pete baird

    judging from congresses failure once again to come to any kind of agreement on anything i think it time for a complete change in washington. DO NOT vote for anybody in office now. i dont care if they have done a good job or not they failed to do their job. VOTE THEM ALL OUT…

    • robert

      to pete,yes your right.ask yourself what are these politicians good for,what have they done for the american people.nothing for us but have lied,cheated,and lined there pockets with our money.i say clean house,totally.if there not with us then there against us.i say jesse ventura or frank serpico for president.ovomit and the rest of the treasonous politicians out.god bless america

  • Robert Morrow

    Just who in their right mind would support the Democrat Party who supported the KKK and Jim Crow laws again citizen of the Republic? Just who with Presidential Executive Order force Citizens of the Republic into Concentration Camps and stole their homes and business? Roosevelt and the Democrats Party. Just who is the most Racist? The Democrat Party. Just who Support Radicals, Socialist,Communist & those that want to destroy the Greatest County known to Man? OBAMA and his Crew with the help of the Democrat Party. Just Who pass Obamacare with Bribery for votes? Reid. Just who was protected by the Corrupt Brotherhood Of Senators. Reid, Pelosi & Obama? The Democrat Party rank and file. Until all meeting of the Congress are held in the open light of day we will be destroyed. So, Followers I hope that you enjoyed your toxic foods, like plastic foam breads and one on which are allowed by the Government that you voted for. so get sick and follow without thought like Zombies.

  • kenneth

    Poor Secretary Chu, undoubtedly a brilliant physicist, but hopelessly unsuited to the job of running the DOE.
    I do not think that he is/was corrept, just ignorant of basic financial analysis and accounting. No one is his right mind would invest a significant sum of money in an entity without financial statements audited by a credible CPA firm. But to go forward in the face of a “doubtful” opinion by KPMG is downright stupid. Furthermore, I understand that the $535M was for the construction of a manufacturing facility and the capital equipment for manufacturing the solar cells. Why didn’t some brilliant person suggest LEASING a facility, just as most start-ups do?

    • Ed

      Everything you say is true. It is also true that nowhere in our Constitution is there any provision for taking your and my hard earned money and giving it to some private enterprise. Throw ALL these bums out.

      “The government that would take 10% would be exceedingly oppressive.”
      -Ben Franklin

    • nvrpc

      Everyone whose every worked around a Phd knows they are good scientist but lousy managers and by no means have any concept of reality or know what lead time and planning means. They are in their won little world. I think the Monkeys must have been around a few of them when they wrote, “day dream believer”

  • Morton L. Friedman

    Accountabilty. I screwed up, therefore YOU are fired! Management 101.

  • Dean

    Come on! If Chu didn’t know what was happening with Solyndra he is really an idiot. That is enough for him to step down.

  • Pat Gilbreath

    We need to instigate two 4 year terms for Congress and out the door they go to live under rules they have put upon the taxpayers.

  • sunroomdan

    Chu knew who the money was going to – FOO – Friend of Obama. Just a drop in the bucket of FOO money that may approach billions.

  • Pat Gilbreath


  • Linda Joy Adams

    The monies were given to a govt contractor to hand out. Remember, govt contractors are immune from any crimes and they can’t be internally audited as to what they do with our money. Congress knew this!! Didn’t President Obama appoint an Office of inspector General official; but OIG can’t do anything until Congress give the authority to even investigate. Wake up Congress; we know what you did and your approval rating of 9% isn’t going up until you pass one simple law. Every entity equal before the law, including govt contractors. OIG offices all over the country have complaints and evidence piling up against crimes committed by govt contractors and can do nothing.Linda Joy Adams with files and monies missing in 5 agencies and the million for my federal workers comp medical care was last seen at the federal reserve, another govt contractor.

  • Dewey Dyer

    Please forgive my notion that this was a conservative site. All I read is the whinings of the socialist left-behinds.

    Steven Chu is either a moron like his boss or a sinister fraud like his boss. Either way, what is the real difference?

    Let us return to the governance of 1803, at latest 1828. That is to say ‘Let him who does not work not eat’ (please excuse the obvious sexism).

    Hard-hearted you may call me, but a larger portion of the pittance the federal government leaves me goes to the charity of my choice rather than the charity of the federal government’s choice (their own pockets).

    Here is my plea:
    Eliminate all federal positions outside the three basic needs of ‘Interior’, ‘State’, and ‘War’.

  • glenny

    Something’s fishy here. Chu said he made the final decision on Solyndra, but I thought the buck stops at the White House. How much power does he have anyway.

  • am2sweet

    Most politicians don’t have a clue as to the meaning of personal accountability. To them if they say anything it’s something that can be traced to someone else, or so they think. The guy that took a shot at the front of the White House should have played their game saying he was just carrying it home and when he stopped to look at how beautiful the White House was it just went off. Must have geen something the guy at the gun shop did to it to make it do that so it’s not his fault….lol