Obama's unnecessary scandals

May 16, 2013

Leave it to Barack Obama to bring together in genuine outrage Tea Party conservatives, sparked to life by his election and determined to undermine it, and the American press, technically unfettered but the administration’s best friend in times of crisis.

Sure, Obama can say his people really had nothing to do with the IRS scandal unfolding before us, in which the tax agency harassed Tea Party groups seeking not-for-profit status for their work. It’s true that the IRS is semi-independent. But does anyone believe Obama really found out about the mess from the media?

Obama is already perceived, even by many of his supporters, as aloof and above it all. Is he now saying he’s so beyond his own administration, so disconnected from his own aides, no one thought to tip him off a scandal was brewing?

Saying he found out about the mess from the media is no shield: it’s an admission of neglect, both by him and by his own team. Are they too busy trying to coordinate the next dinner in the so-called “charm” offensive on congressional Republicans they didn’t bother to establish some kind of routine communications with the IRS that might have let them in on the problem? Or are the IRS people so disdainful of the president and his administration they figured they could wait until the boiling point?

And let’s not forget Attorney General Eric Holder, copy-catting the president in ignorance: turns out he had no idea either his folks had been caching phone records for months over at the Associated Press. Holder said he’d recused himself and didn’t actually sign off on the spying – but doesn’t the law require the Department of Justice to inform the source first, to seek its cooperation? Never mind, Holder remembers so little of this, is so aimless a satellite, he failed to put his recusal in writing, leading to his inability to remember the date he actually recused himself.

How pissed off are media people? Almost every major newspaper has been leading with at least one Obama disaster – the IRS, the AP story or, in more conservative circles, Benghazi.

On the Internet, HuffPost – the president’s biggest booster – lead with “DOJ WTF.” The 24 TV news cycle has been churning with all three, and with connections between all three. There’s actual talk of impeachment, however ridiculous.


Here’s the thing: All three of these events are completely unnecessary scandals. Republicans may be lapping and stirring them up, but all three are crazy careless mistakes on the part of a White House that, even to supporters, has often seemed arrogant beyond the pale.

And while at least two of the scandals appear to have merit (Benghazi strikes me as a GOP wet dream to derail Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid – good luck with that, guys), none actually hit the heights of bulldozing over rights and law-bending in similar situations in previous administrations.

What makes them red meat right now is the GOP’s appetite for anything to tarnish this president, and the president and his cronies’ unfettered belief that’s the only thing keeping them from glory.

In the meantime, judgeships remain vacant, appointments remain unconfirmed, the sequester marches on, government slows to a crawl and the 2014 midterms – an exercise that, no matter who wins, will reward bad behavior – approaches.