Just as Republicans and their media lackeys were getting their Obama scandal machine fired up, President Obama killed both the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” in a couple of hours.
The president put a stake through the heart of the GOP’s attempts to revive Benghazi by releasing 100 pages of emails. (Now, the world can see how badly Jon Karl and ABC News got played when they used the summaries of someone else’s notes.) The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent published an email from Tommy Vietor, who until recently was the spokesperson for the National Security Council. Vietor wrote, “Regarding the talking points, it’s not surprising that the entire government would want the chance to look at and edit that language. This was a dynamic situation and new information was constantly flowing in, and different agencies had important concerns that had to be addressed – the State Department had security concerns, the FBI was worried about its investigation, and the CIA had a major, yet still undisclosed, role.”
Republicans are putting out vague statements about contradictions, but Benghazi is pretty much finished as a scandal. It is difficult to accuse the White House of a cover up, when they’ve released all the emails.
The second part of the one-two punch was Obama speaking about the IRS scandal.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from — the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts. Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role. And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed. Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas. Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in — as reported in the IG report is an outrage. The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
Republicans are going to hold more hearings about this IRS mess, but they are going to have a difficult time getting anyone to believe that this is an Obama scandal if the president himself is outraged by it, and is taking steps to fix the problem.
In roughly two hours, President Obama put on a textbook display of how a president should handle those who are trying to create scandals to use against him.
Where do Republicans go from here?
They’ll preach to the conservative choir that believes every negative statement and wild conspiracy about Obama, but for the vast majority of the country these two “scandals” are dead and dying.
Republicans are now reduced to trying to turn the investigation of the AP that they demanded into an Obama scandal. However, the AP flap is resonating much more with the media than it is with the country at large. It is interesting to note that the mainstream media is outraged over what happened to the AP, but they were mostly silent during the Bush administration’s abuses via the Patriot Act. They also said little when the Bush administration was paying journalists and columnists to push their agenda in the media. (I am not suggesting that what happened to the AP was justified, but that the media has been wildly inconsistent over the past decade when it comes to protecting the First Amendment.)
Before the media could even finish their stories about Obama’s scandal plagued second term, the president wiped out two attempts to create scandals in a few hours. Republicans will keep trying to create them, but Benghazi and the IRS have turned out to be Obama scandal duds.