On top of the ongoing Benghazi fiasco (State/CIA/White House), the Pigford settlement scandal confirmed by the New York Times last month (billions in fraudulent claims paid out by Dept of Agriculture), and the ethical questions swirling around HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pushing healthcare industry executives to make “donations” to non-profits to promote Obamacare, we were treated to two new gems this week.
First, the Justice Department secretly seized two months of reporters’ phone records to monitor the news gathering activities of the Associated Press in what could very well be a violation of the constitution. Second, it was revealed that the IRS was specifically targeting conservative groups applying for non-profit status to subject them to “additional scrutiny” as far back as two years ago in an increasingly Nixonian-sounding intimidation effort. In short, it’s been a terrible week for the President.
The press just got a jarring wake-up call as to the potential dangers of unchecked power, even from their liberal darling. They SOOO wanted to believe that President Obama was our nation’s savior after the Bush years that they treated him with deference, but here’s the thing. People aren’t as stupid as liberal elites take them for. Because the mainstream media (MSM) gave him a pass for so long, people could see that they were getting propaganda, not good journalism. So they changed the channel, which hit those news organizations right in their bottom line. I guess in order to recapture those lost profits, the MSM figured out it needed to go back to doing its job. This has been an angry and abrupt turn by the fourth estate. It’s also long overdue (see previous post from March). Let’s see how the Administration handles itself without having an utterly pliant, supine, and adoring press. Fame is a fickle mistress, Mr. President.
As for the IRS scandal, this smacks of dirty politics and abuse of power (hope and change, anyone?). Preventing these groups from gaining non-profit status before the 2012 elections invariably silenced their potential political voice and may have had an impact on the outcome of the election. Couple this with other election year antics like asserting dubious legal authority to waive federal welfare-to-work requirements (sop to the poor), approving selective enforcement of immigration laws (sop to Hispanics), and approving a student loan interest rate freeze (sop to students), and you begin to see the lengths people will go to in order to maintain their grip on power.
You are seeing what happens when you lose it. In Washington, your “corridor reputation” is your most important asset and once lost, credibility is extremely hard to regain. The fact that no one has been fired as a result of any of these incidents (save two mid-level IRS folks who were retiring anyway) is disgraceful. However, I would argue the moment that this President “jumped the shark” was earlier this year (March 1, 2013, to be exact) when all the doom and gloom he and his fellow Democrats predicted as a result of sequestration didn’t happen. It should have been obvious to them that they were overselling the sequester cuts, as anyone who has ever done math will tell you that 2% reduction of anything is not “catastrophic.”
It was just the week prior to this maelstrom at Ohio State University’s commencement that Obama called on students to “reject the voices that warn about government tyranny” and dismissive of concerns that “tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.” Open mouth, insert foot. In fact, Obama and the left have consistently been dismissive of these warnings of government overreach precisely because they do not have an understanding of history and those that forget history are doomed to repeat it.
In matters such as these, my default position tends toward Hanlon’s Razor, which states that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. In the interests of maintaining my credibility, I won’t speculate on what the White House may have known about all of these controversies or when they knew it until more information is revealed. But I will close with a poignant observation.
If this is incompetence rather than nefariousness, and talking points didn’t get passed up the proper chain or a few “rogue elements” within the organizations in question were acting improperly or there was a misunderstanding of the authorities of the executive or whatever creative excuse the Administration is offering up, doesn’t that prove what Republicans have been saying all along? That the federal government has grown too large and the federal laws and regulations have grown too onerous?