Burnard: Games of the GOPWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The GOP thinks it has hit the trifecta with three scandals that it is trying to pin on President Obama: Benghazi, the IRS looking into the Tea Party groups’ tax-exempt status, and the collection of Associated Press phone records to find who was responsible for a national security leak. Republicans are throwing around such grandiose phrases as “a hundred times worse than Watergate” and “a culture of intimidation by the Obama White House.” They’ve called for what they hope will be endless investigations into the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton that hopefully will last until the next election cycle or two so they won’t have to do their real jobs.
First up is Benghazi and the supposed cover-up. From the get-go, the GOP has tried to tailor the narrative to its advantage, which is, as always, to discredit Obama. First, there was the talking points memo that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was given for the Sunday talk show circuit. It didn’t say that Al-Qaida was responsible for the attack; it was blamed on a spontaneous demonstration in support of demonstrations in Egypt. Then, according to the GOP narrative, the president himself supposedly refused to call it a terrorist attack. After numerous news agencies showed the president specifically denouncing these acts of terror, the narrative became, “Yeah, but a terrorist attack is different than an act of terror!” Huh?
Then, there was a supposed refusal to release hundreds of emails that described the coverup. When the emails were released, they showed no evidence of a cover-up, but rather an attempt by the intelligence agencies to not divulge what they knew to the public and press for national security reasons. Of course that wasn’t good enough for those who fancy themselves to be so much more intelligent than the intelligence community. When they finally read the emails — surprise — they didn’t exactly say what many had hoped they would.
As Major Garrett reported on CBS News, “unnamed Republicans” changed the emails to try to implicate the State Department as well as Victoria Nuland, who is a former aide to Dick Cheney, and married to neoconservative icon Robert Kagan. Guess she’s supposed to take one for the team.
Another interesting point seems to be the total lack of interest in the 16 or so attacks on American embassies and other diplomatic facilities that occurred under the Bush administration that resulted in the deaths of 54 Americans. Where was the outrage then?
Next, we have the IRS “scandal.” The Treasury Department Inspector General conducted an investigation into this from June 2012 to February 2013 at the request of Congress and released a 54-page report. The GOP narrative on this was that for political reasons, the White House sicced the IRS on the Tea Party type groups to steal the 2012 election. Unfortunately, the findings of the IG once again didn’t fit the narrative.
The report found that rather than political motivation, the main problem was incompetence. The incompetence was not on the part of the White House and some sort of ham-handed scheme, but rather on the part of the IRS given the job of enforcing the law that says a 501(c) may not cross the line and engage in certain types of political activities. This law was duly passed by Congress, which mandated the IRS to enforce it.
Unfortunately, they neglected to specify just where that line was. So a small division in the Cincinnati office of the IRS in charge of enforcing that portion of the tax code, with little or no guidance, was forced to deal with hundreds of new requests from these groups who hate the government and don’t believe in taxes. What would you do if you were a low- or mid-level employee charged with figuring out if these so-called “social education” groups were actually engaging in prohibited political activities?
Granted, maybe that wasn’t the most PC method, but the real fault lies in the lack of guidance from higher-ups. Heads have rolled, and, by the way, the commissioner of the IRS when the investigation began was a Bush appointee. Will he be the one to go to prison, as John Boehner is calling for? I bet not.
Finally, the AP scandal. I have grave reservations about this one, but it all comes down to the Patriot Act. When you give such unfettered power to the government, you’ll have this sort of thing. I don’t see any great call for some or all of it being repealed, and on this the GOP is strangely silent.
Let’s forget trying to play these games, and get back to doing the peoples’ business.