11/08/2013 10:30 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Apples and Oranges

Predictably, some pundits are drawing comparisons between President Obama's professed lack of knowledge of several major scandals -- IRS investigating political opponents, Justice Department probing reporters, security arrangements at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, NSA spying on allies, problems with the website and campaign polling of whether Hillary Clinton should replace Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket -- with President Ronald Reagan's not being aware of the diversion of funds and subsequent attempt to trade arms for hostages in the so-called Iran-Contra affair. Some have even gone so far as to invoke such phrases as "witness to his own presidency" or "bystander" in comparing the two men.

Given his current political fortunes, Obama should welcome anything that makes him seem like Reagan, but the truth of the matter is, there is nothing remotely comparable.

Iran-Contra happened because of rogue behavior by members of the Administration who maliciously conspired to deceive the president. That is a matter of established fact. No one has ever suggested or contended -- nor has there ever been any evidence whatsoever -- that President Reagan knew anything about the scheme to trade arms for hostages. But once he found out, there were severe consequences for the actions taken by the freelancers who chose to keep the president in the dark. People went to jail and a White House Chief of Staff was fired. A former senior Administration official even tried to commit suicide.

In the Obama Administration, however, there are no such consequences. There never are. No one -- least of all the president -- is ever held accountable for anything.

It's hard to know whether one should hope the president is telling the truth about his ignorance of the many scandals that plague his Administration, or whether one should hope that he knew, but won't admit it. If he did not know, then he has failed to take control of his government and, even worse, has created a culture in which keeping essential information from him is the norm. If he did know, but claims otherwise, he is lying.

Talk about "the lesser of two evils!"