On the eve of the invasion of Normandy in 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower made his last inspections of the troops in South Eastern England as they made final preparations for the assault on Fortress Europe.
Eisenhower returned to his quarters and wrote a memo that he hoped he would not have to issue the next morning. It read in part:
"Our landings ... have failed. ... My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops ... did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."
Thankfully the memo was not needed -- the invasion was a success, and Eisenhower credited all success to the bravery of the troops.
Flash forward to 2013. President Obama presides over an economy that remains crippled after years of government "stimulus," with more Americans unemployed for longer periods of time than at any point since the Great Depression.
Unlike Eisenhower, however, Obama accepts no responsibility -- in fact, the mantra of the Obama administration could be, a la Bart Simpson, "I didn't do it."
For Obama, the presidential buck stops any and everywhere except with the president -- the Republicans in Congress, Tsunamis, ATMs, and especially that great boogeyman, former President George W. Bush.
It is not surprising that the president does not want credit for the government and economy he is responsible for -- they are both in truly sorry shape. But what is strange is that Obama has not been held responsible by anybody in key precincts of power in this country, either.
Conservatives like to think and say that Obama gets a pass from the media because Obama is a liberal and reporters like liberals. I'm sure that's part of it, but liberal journalists have held Democratic politicians to the fire in times past.
Civil Rights patron saint Lyndon Johnson was nonetheless excoriated for his stewardship of the Vietnam War; Jimmy Carter was held partly responsible for the economic catastrophe of the late 1970s; and even beloved Bill Clinton was raked over the coals for years over his indiscretions with a White House intern.
What is going on here with Obama?
Think about it: George Bush gets blamed for Hurricane Katrina; Hurricane Sandy helps Obama get re-elected.
In a previous column for the American Thinker ("The Affirmative Action President," August 18, 2011), I put forward the hypothesis that all of us, and I mean the country as a whole, have perhaps held Obama to a different standard than previous presidents and presidential candidates, partly because he is black.
It was, I thought at the time, neither a controversial nor especially original idea; the incomparable Norman Podhoretz had written along similar lines for the Wall Street Journal.
Nonetheless, I found to my surprise that that my column struck a nerve like nothing I had written before or since, becoming the subject of a widely distributed chain email (often misattributing its source).
I still think there is merit to the notion -- indeed Obama's re-election in the face of an economy that would have almost certainly defeated any other president only strengthened my suspicions that his presidency -- like his candidacy before -- has been buoyed by an entirely understandable desire on the part of the country to see an African-American succeed in the world's toughest job, and not only because of what it says about this country's essential goodness.
And it is vital to understand that recognizing this reality is NOT saying Obama succeeds or fails because he is black, only that he should be held to the same standards as every other previous occupant of the Oval Office.
In the end, though, it doesn't really matter why Obama refuses to accept responsibility, or why much of the nation has opted not to hold him accountable for his failures. It only matters that it is so.
In politics, war and life, to hold someone unaccountable for the unacceptable only ensures mediocrity -- or worse. For the millions of lives saved and liberated by Allied forces in 1944-45, thank God there were men like Eisenhower prepared to hold everyone accountable:
Even -- especially -- themselves.
Matt Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based columnist and author.