An Administration can usually survive one scandal, no matter how problematic. Ronald Reagan weathered the Iran Contra imbroglio, although his second term was sidetracked to a considerable degree by the necessity of its handling. Bill Clinton was impeached in his second term (although ultimately not removed from office) due to his lying under oath (perjury) related to the Lewinski scandal.
Perhaps an Administration could even survive two scandals at the same time. But three?
We’ll see. Because the Obama Administration is now facing considerable scrutiny for three, count ’em, three scandals at the same time. 1. Benghazi. 2. The IRS targeting conservative groups for “special” treatment. 3. And most recently, the Obama Justice Department secretly seizing phone records of journalists (never pick a fight with a group that buys ink by the barrel, as they used to say.)
It’s too early to say for certain how all of this will play out, but it could be very bad indeed for this “do as I say, not as I do”; “holier than thou”; “we’re the change we’ve been waiting for” Administration.
First, Benghazi. Four Americans dead, including the first U.S. Ambassador killed overseas in over thirty years.
Obama’s State Department, represented by Susan Rice, goes on five Sunday talk shows and poo-poos any connection to terrorism, claiming instead that it was a spontaneous reaction by demonstrators to a video. Turns out to be total bunk. Obama’s State Department knew from the start that terrorists were responsible for the Benghazi attack. But this didn’t fit in with one of the Obama campaign’s principal themes – that Commander-in-Chief Obama had all but destroyed al-Qaeda, and therefore deserved to be re-elected. Terrorists attacking Benghazi was inconsistent with this campaign theme.
So the facts changed. The intelligence community’s talking points, used by Susan Rice were changed, not in a “single adjustment, changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ ” as Obama’s mouthpiece Jay Carney had claimed, but instead they were revised 12 TIMES. For example, all references to “terrorism” were dropped.
We now learn that Obama State Department spokeswoman-at-the-time, Victoria Nuland, felt that the truth had to be covered up, because the true facts might be “abused by Members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings…” So Congress and the American people were misled, deceived, lied to (pick your verb.) The cover up was on. And it continues to this day.
Second, IRS harassment of conservative groups. Although no one died as a result of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups (that we know of), this revelation is every bit as outrageous as Benghazi.
The IRS has truly awesome powers. It can bring strong men to their knees. It can ruin lives. Let’s face it, everyone (in their right mind) is terrified of the IRS.
However, the one thing we know about the IRS (or thought we knew) was that the IRS treated everyone equally (perhaps equally badly, but equally.) It would never be used by our nation’s leaders for partisan political purposes. In fact, when Richard Nixon was alleged to have used the IRS against his enemies, it was the second Article of Impeachment against him, which read: “He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to cause, in violation of the Constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits, or other income tax investigations, to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
Well, we now know that the IRS was targeting for “special” treatment a whole range of conservative organizations, that had in their name “Tea Party” or “patriot” or “government spending” or other words near and dear to the hearts of conservatives. Of course Obama and his people are claiming they didn’t know a thing – didn’t suspect anything. Well, we’ll see.
The latest revelation is that Senator Chuck Schumer, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and Max Baucus, Democrat Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (which oversees the IRS and our tax laws), and other top Democrats, had sent a letter to the IRS, urging them to, in essence, do just what the IRS did – target Tea Party and conservative groups for particular scrutiny. (And, as I just put the finishing touches on this week’s blog, there’s a USA Today story reporting that liberal groups, with “Progressive” or “Progress” in their names, got their tax exemption approval from the IRS up to three times more quickly than their conservative counterparts.) In other words, liberal groups got preferential treatment – conservative groups got punished.
And finally, Obama’s Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of a whole slew of reporters. This is the thing that has the press most outraged – because THEY’RE the ones who were targeted this time – not Tea Party groups, or American diplomats half way around the globe. Reporters!
The Newspaper Association of America released a statement which read in part: “Today we learned of the Justice Department’s unprecedented wholesale seizure of confidential telephone records from the Associated Press. These actions shock the American conscience and violate the critical freedom of the press protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Any of the three scandals mentioned above could do great damage to the Obama Administration. But all three together are quite serious.
It’s been said that the second terms of many of our Presidents have been cursed – with scandal, tragedy, or other misfortunes. It would appear that the curse is rearing its ugly head quite early in Obama’s second term.