Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Smoking Gun Shoots Blanks

There's something telling about Mitch McConnell saying that the health care act will be the major issue in the 2014 midterm elections. It means that he realizes that the GOP will smoke its triple scandal orgasm cigarette and move on before the year is out. It also means that he operates in the same blindered echo-chamber the far right has occupied since March of 2010. Yes, the IRS does have a role to play in the ACA's rollout and implementation, but it's not going to be responsible for the death of the Republican Party. The party faithful are doing a good enough job of that.

After a week of terrible news, two major polls--CNN/ORC and Gallup--are showing that President Obama's approval ratings are holding steady in the low 50s, but that many Americans are not satisfied with many of the answers the members of his administration, and he, are giving. That's understandable. These are undeniably poor governmental practices, and if anybody has broken the law, then they should be punished. But that will be difficult.

What happened at the IRS office in Cincinnati sounds suspicioulsy like the office of any other overworked, understaffed institution in the United States. People made choices on their own, seemingly without a lot of oversight, and they tried to be efficient in the face of technology inefficiencies and a dash of confusion. There's no conspiracy here, despite the right wing's continuing bleating, because there were some left wing groups that got caught up in the excess scrutiny. Plus, at the time, most of the new groups asking for tax-exempts status were Tea Party affiliated because that's when they rose to power, so that was the bulk of the applications to begin with. And there's no evidence (yet) that a majority or even a large cohort of these groups was denied their tax-exempt status because of their affiliation. This is not a scandal: It's incompetence, and that's not criminal.

The ongoing drama in Benghazi is likewise a government muddle, but it looks like it's mostly a CIA-State Department fight that resulted in terrible editing and a tragic miscalculation of what was happening on the ground. Again, is there  evidence of illegal activity? Probably not, but the GOP will spend more time than it needs to trying to unearth something that isn't there.

The Justice Department's rummaging through the Associated Press' phone records is the most chilling of the three issues because it combines the worst of the War on Terror with a violation of the trust that journalists have with their sources. Its' also the most disappointing aspect of the Obama Administration's continuation of policies put in place during George W. Bush's tenure in the White House. Perhaps this will result in a national shield law, something that, until now, the Obama administration has been against.

The right wing has been waiting for the opportunity to investigate the president for over four years, and they've finally received their opportunity. They will probably be disappointed, but not until they've extracted some political coinage for their trouble. This will boomerang on them if it means that immigration and tax reform are sacrificed in the name of non-existent conspiracies.

And really, if you want to compare Obama to Nixon, then you probably weren't alive during the 1970s, and if you were, you learned the wrong lessons.

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