Election 2016

2016: The Year in Blame Shifting

How to dodge responsibility, whether you're a candidate or a cop.


Hillary Clinton blames FBI Director James Comey for her humiliating loss in last month's presidential election. If only Comey had not reminded voters about her sloppy email practices as secretary of state a week before the election, Clinton thinks, she would be taking the oath of office on January 20 instead of Donald Trump.

That argument overlooks Clinton's role in triggering an FBI investigation by flouting State Department rules and lying about it, not to mention her remarkable weakness as a candidate. Clinton's self-exonerating explanation for her defeat was one of the year's most striking attempts to dodge responsibility. Here are some of the others:

Billy Bush made him do it. When a 2005 recording in which Donald Trump brags about kissing and groping beautiful women without their consent surfaced in October, the Republican nominee described his vulgar boasts as "locker-room banter," and his wife blamed the other party to the conversation, Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush, for encouraging her husband "to say dirty and bad stuff." But a review of the video shows that Trump, who broached the subject of uninvited snogging and grabbing, did not need any encouragement.

Plummet on, punks. When rock star Ted Nugent posted a dozen photos showing "who is really behind gun control" on Facebook in February, describing the people in the pictures as "punks" who "hate freedom" and "would deny us the basic human right to self defense," even fans of the Motor City Madman and the Second Amendment were startled by the array's blatant anti-Semitism: All of the gun control supporters were Jews, as indicated by little Israeli flags, and the pictures included captions such as "ISRAEL FIRSTER" (Alan Dershowitz) and "911 Israeli agent"(Michael Bloomberg). Nugent was outraged by the outrage, blaming "dishonest…superFreaks" for misconstruing his message. "Freaks have plummeted to whole new low," he complained. "Plummet on, punks."

Volunteer vilification. Last March the Justice Department blamed the slow pace of President Obama's commutations on Clemency Project 2014, the network of volunteer lawyers who were doing the DOJ's work by sorting through thousands of cases, looking for petitioners who met the department's criteria. The criteria were so strict that only 7 percent of the 36,000 or so prisoners who contacted the project qualified for DOJ consideration.

Tough on crime, easy on himself. When the 1994 crime bill championed by Bill Clinton became an issue in his wife's presidential campaign, the former president blamed the excessively punitive aspects of the law on Republican legislators. Clinton said Joe Biden, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told him, "You can't pass this bill, and the Republicans will kill it, if you don't put more sentencing in." Yet as first lady Hillary Clinton cited tougher penalties as one of the bill's main advantages, and her husband bragged about them.

Marijuana misdirection. In recent interviews, Obama has called continued enforcement of the federal ban on marijuana "untenable" while blaming the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Congress for keeping the drug in the most restrictive category of the Controlled Substances Act. Yet Obama has never urged Congress to change marijuana's legal status, and he appointed a hardline holdover from the Bush administration to run the DEA. When she resigned, he did not appoint a replacement more receptive to reclassification of cannabis.

Blame the victim. Michael Slager, the former North Charleston police officer who was caught on video shooting a fleeing, unarmed motorist in the back last year, testified at his trial last month that he acted out of "total fear" after the man, Walter Scott, grabbed his Taser during an altercation. "Mr. Scott was shot because of what he did," Slager's lawyer told the jury. But the video, shot by a witness who said Scott never had control of the stun gun, shows Slager picking up the Taser after killing Scott and dropping it next to his body. At least one juror nevertheless seemed to buy Slager's story, forcing a mistrial.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

NEXT: Carrie Fisher's Death Closes Out a Grim 2016, Defending 'White Genocide' Professor: P.M. Links

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  1. You forgot Russia made us vote for Trump by hacking our brains. You forgot Obama blamed Fox News. You forgot Trump blamed illegals and ISIS.

    1. Now I ‘member

  2. Silence in the face of evil – that is the real culprit.

    1. So what’s your excuse? Noise in support of banality?

      1. “The world is too dangerous to live in ? not because of the people [like ScareCroWoodChippeRepair] who [speak] evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen.” – (((Albert Einstein)))

        1. im pretty sure Einstein wasnt referring to people who say mildly sarcastic things to you on the internet.

  3. I knew Nugent was crazy, but I didn’t realize he was a racist. Yesterday he made a Facederp post about Obama releasing all his “ganbanger bro’s.”

    1. Ted Nugent has the same politics as the Breitbart comments section.

      1. That’s a pretty apt description. He displays the same grasp of orthography and mechanics as well.

  4. I’ve come to believe that trying to avoid responsibility and the consequences of stupid or bad behavior is one of the defining attributes of our age.

  5. There’s no I in mea culpa.

    1. There’s a “me”, though.

  6. Reason hasn’t learned a thing. Taking the NYT hysterical position on trump’s comments makes you part of fake news. Good luck with that.

    1. I can’t even

    2. It isn’t Reason’s job to make Trumpkins comfortable.

      1. You would expect it would be their job to refrain from repeating claims that are patently false, but only if you’ve never before read a a Reason article. The full Billy Bush tape was available online. Trump was clearly talking about women who would “let” you “grab them”

        Of course, I stopped reading after I hit that bit of bs. Which is ok, because I only come here to read the comment section.

        No, seriously, I only come here for the comments. Reason should pay the commentariat. They’d have no traffic otherwise.

  7. Caption contest!!

    “She’s about to fall again!”

  8. OT: Global warming in the US is entirely a creation of fabricated data:


    Raw data shows no warming. Reference stations show no warming. Warming is only shown when “missing” data is backfilled by NOAA.

      1. The author slaps down the NOAA response pretty cleanly, I think. I would be interested in someone who actually does science giving an opinion on this, though. Because if the author’s claims are true, there’s a lot of people in NOAA who should be fired, and possibly prosecuted for fraud.

    1. I don’t understand why raw data needs to be adjusted. I keep hearing about it every year, it reminds me of the way they fudge unemployment numbers. What are the reasons given for making adjustments? There has to be some sort of valid reason given. Is it compensation for the heat produced by the asphalt of urban sprawl or the parkification of previously ungreen parts of a city where temperatures have been recorded for decades but the terrain has changed? I don’t get it, why is it acceptable to change a unit of measurement from a specific moment in time. Wouldn’t this corrupt the whole database?

  9. Obama’s excuses on marijuana have always rung hollow. They gave Obamabots something to lie to themselves about, but throughout his tenure he’s been a Drug Warrior. What little steps he’s taken has been to keep the War on Drugs (more accurately the War on the American people) politically palatable.

    From day one in office he could have ordered marijuana moved down or off the schedules. If DEA head balked, he could have demanded a resignation. He’s not shown the same reluctance to wield executive power elsewhere, and even when it’s been less popular than ending the war on pot.

    1. Politics, not principle. How many did he finally pardon who languished in jail for years until it was safe (Nov. 9th) to let them out? How many years did he block the UN resolution on Israel until it was safe (after Jewish contributors’ checks cleared (Nov. 9th)? Just another p.o.s. politician.

  10. Politicians of any stripe who blame the voters having what amounts to a false consciousness for a loss always amuse me. Your job as a politician is to convince voters to vote for your side. If you fail to do that, you have failed as a politician. The voters’ having a false consciousness might explain that but it doesn’t make you any less of a failure because your job was to change that consciousness.

  11. Reason’s Year of Blame shifting?.

    “”Punks” who “hate freedom” does not represent anti-semitism for the same reason that “Obama is a punk who hates freedom” is not racist.

    “Groping without their consent,” Not only did Trump have consent, the women initiated the encounters because some women are that stupid about famous people.

    “The criteria were so strict that only 7 percent of the 36,000 or so prisoners?” Why, having the power to release any prisoner, care about qualifications. Obama broke the record on prisoner releases.

    Reason’s “war on police” continues to elect cop hating Democrats, making cop killing the newest thug-centric fad.

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  13. Great premise but a cop’s defense at his own trial doesn’t make my top seven. I’d put almost everything Black Lives Matter activists say above it. BLM only screams black lives matter when they can blame white people for black people’s problems.

    Maybe BLM is more qualified to top an article about the “era of blame-shifting,” since the hands up, don’t shoot lie and the phony idea that Trayvon Martin didn’t deserve to die the night he attempted to kill an innocent man with his fists both predate 2016.

    Add to the “era” the Benghazi video lie that saw Hillary and Barack knowingly blame a poorly made satirical video as justification for a terrorist attack.

    Speaking of terrorist attacks, Fort Hood, which was one, had blame shifted to work place violence; Sacramento? Gun control; Orlando? Homophobia. Even Pam Geller was blamed for performing the heroic civic duty of rooting out two evil terrorists by making herself their target. Much like the Benghazi video or the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, responsibility was sometimes muddled. The perfect of example of that coming from an indignant Barack Obama who, while pointing to The Crusades as a way to blame Christianity for Islamic terrorism, went even further in telling us “the future does not belong to those who would slander the Prophet Muhammad.”

    Talk about blame shifting! President Blame Shift Obama has certainly earned himself a participation trophy.

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    We are waiting for another George Washington perhaps


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