First, Benghazi. As the story goes, the Obama administration tried to pass off a terrorist attack as an anti-American protest in order to secure reelection and/or coddle our enemies and/or persecute Christians. And it turns out that there’s no actual evidence for that story. So the real story is why the Obama administration hasn’t given us the evidence we demand. Or maybe the real story is the Republicans prioritization of political gamesmanship over any pretense of sound government. This is not a scandal. It’s an obnoxious distraction—and most people have figured this out at this point.
Second, the AP phone record subpoenas. Perhaps somebody else could explain this to me. It sounds like some information leaked that was both extremely newsworthy and extremely sensitive for legitimate national security reasons. There was an investigation into the leak—and I don’t think anybody disputes that a leak of that type was worth investigating it. Holder recused himself from the investigation. AP and the press are angry that they were drawn into the investigation and feel that they should get extra protections. (It’s not an unreasonable request). And the Obama administration is now asking for a press shield law to provide the extra protections. I don’t believe there is any allegation that any laws were broken. Nor do I think anybody is even claiming an attempt to intimidate or harass the press. I see a controversy—but not a scandal.
Of course, it’s also a story about percieved encroachments on press freedom … so there are some reporters who are really into it. I get that. And I’m not trying to say that the entire media is composed of entitled whiners. At least, I’m not trying to say it expressly.
Third, the IRS flap. Okay. This one was bad. And as more details emerge, it’s starting to look like at least a couple IRS employees may have had a political agenda. And there’s a good story in here for any libertarian seeking an anecdote about public officials abusing power.
The Republicans want answers. They expect people to be fired. They want criminal prosecution. On Wednesday, John Boehner asked who was going to go to jail over this scandal.
Except … the Justice Department had announced a criminal probe in the matter on Tuesday. The acting head of the IRS has already been asked to resign—not because he personally targetted the groups, not because he directed people to target them, not because the targetting happened on his watch, but because he knew that the targetting and didn’t immediately blow the whistle. So this looks like a case of something bad happened on Obama’s watch and he brought the hammer down before the Republicans could even get their talking points together. This is a scandal—but I don’t think it’s the Obama Administration’s scandal.
So … right. The new narrative is that these three stories are some kind of perfect storm of scandals that is going to plague Obama’s entire second term and relegate his Presidential library to the log next to the sewage treatment plant. I don’t buy it. I count one Republican fabrication, one fight over the balance between press access and national security, and one legitimate scandal in a politically isolated agency that Obama has aggressively responded to.
Of course, there is a real scandal. This whole sequestration thing. Cuts in programs are okay … until they start annoying wealthy people. So the Federal Aviation Administration cuts get reversed. But massive cuts in emergency unemployment benefits have gone largely without comment.
Once again, squashed is able to clearly articulate exactly what I’m thinking…