Monday, June 24, 2013

Benghazi, the IRS, and Obamagate


In baseball it’s three strikes and you’re out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the game of American politics. Three scandals have recently rocked the Obama administration and it appears as if they will not go away. First, there is the ongoing investigation of the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Second, there is the startling revelation that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting conservative groups for special attention before the 2012 election. Third, there was the news, especially shocking to the Administrations supporters in the media, that the Department of Justice was actually targeting reporters and their sources.

I’ve been waiting for more information about these three issues but it now looks that it might be years before we know the truth. Just this past week the head of the FBI testified that he didn’t even know who was leading the investigation of the IRS or how many agents were assigned to the case. Until more information is forthcoming I would just like to mention peculiar aspects of these issues that trouble this observer.

In the first place, most of the coverage of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi has focused on the Administration’s characterization of the event as a response to a YouTube video. Nevertheless, what President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew about the attack and what they said about it pales in significance to what the Obama administration now intends to do about it.

I’ve always thought that an attack on an American embassy or consulate was the same as an attack on American soil. Yet, almost a year has gone by since the attack and there has apparently been no response on the part of our government. I believe that the President said originally that we would get the murderers and I can only hope that he meant it. Maybe he doesn’t want to tip his hand but he should at least give some indication that we are engaged in an attempt to bring the criminals to justice. It's not just a case, as Mrs. Clinton said, of making sure it won't happen again.

Secondly, when I first read that the IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio was targeting conservative organizations for special treatment, my thoughts went back to election night in 2012. On that night every electoral map was focused on Ohio. It seemed as if Ohio would be the key to the whole election. On the map Ohio was a sea of red surrounding two islands of blue. The two blue or Democratic strongholds were Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Months before political operatives on both sides knew that Cleveland and Cincinnati were pivotal in bringing out the Democrat vote in Ohio. Is it any wonder then, that the source of the IRS chicanery would be found in its IRS office in Cincinnati? In electoral politics suppressing potentially unfavorable votes is just as important as encouraging favorable ones. It is obvious that the local IRS office in Cincinnati impeded the attempts of right wing groups to form and raise funds. What is also obvious is that the claim that a few local agents took it upon themselves to investigate right wing organizations will not fly. It is becoming increasingly clear that orders came from Washington. I’m not saying that President had a hand in this scheme. I’m just saying that his political operatives knew that everything had to be done to win Ohio.

Just one more thing about the IRS case. The story was originally broken by a high level IRS operative in Washington who in a press conference answered a reporter’s question about an audit of IRS activity. However, it turned out that the question was planted by the IRS itself. In other words, the reporter was given the question in advance. A conspiracy theorist would go to town with that one, especially since the IRS scandal knocked Benghazi off the front pages.

Finally, the government’s surveillance of reporters might have created the biggest firestorm of all except that it turned out that a reporter from Fox News had been the main target. It’s hard to believe how calmly the mainstream media swallowed this bitter pill. To give them the benefit of the doubt, the media’s docility might be excused by the revelation of the news that the National Security Agency had all of us under surveillance.

It should go without saying that any one of these scandals would have crippled a Republican administration. Just think how an issue like Iran-Contra was enough to consume all the attention of the second Reagan administration. These three scandals make Watergate seem like child’s play.


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