As “scandals” (both real and manufactured) continue to garner news coverage, I’ve changed my views a little bit on at least one issue. With the news today of the Obama administration admitting 4 American citizens have been killed by drone strikes, I now count 4 scandals. I still believe that much the emphasis in DC is on politics, I still believe a the scandals are being overblown simply to inflict as much political harm as possible on the Obama administration. However, as more information continues to trickle out, I do have serious concerns about how the Obama administration has handled 2 issues, while the other 2 in my mind are pure political fluff. The 2 “fluffy” issues first:
- Benghazi – It would be different if Republicans were focused on improving diplomatic security. However, given that Republicans have been against increasing funding for diplomatic security, given that they’ve given NO indication they care about anything other than using the issue to try to politically harm Obama and Hillary Clinton, it’s hard to see much of a scandal here. Hey, Repubs…how about spending a little more time worrying about how to prevent the NEXT attack, rather than worrying about what words were used by the Obama administration to describe the LAST attack?
- IRS “Targeting” Tea Party groups – I’m sorry, but despite the play this is getting in the press, I don’t find a lot wrong with the IRS specifically paying more attention to Tea Party groups claiming tax-exempt status. Given the Tea Party’s hatred of government, given the Tea Party’s goal of decreasing the size of government, given their goal of DECREASING TAXES, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to more closely scrutinize Tea Party organizations who are trying to claim tax-exempt status.
And two scandals that do have me concerned about the direction of the Obama administration:
- Justice Department/AP/Fox leak investigations. This one has become more troubling to me as more information comes out. Investigating the sources of leaks? I’m fine with that, and given the hawkish-ness of Republicans in general, if this was coming out during the Bush administration, you can be damned sure you’d have a lot less uproar from the right. Hell, they’d probably be joining the call to stop the leaks by any means necessary. But with the hated Obama in office? Since when have Republicans been big fans of the press? It certainly is troubling though to see the Justice Department apparently pursue criminal charges against a Fox News reporter for reporting leaked information. That’s an incredibly dangerous precedent, labeling a journalist as a “co-conspirator”. Go after the leaks, by all means, but don’t criminalize journalists for reporting leaks.
- Drone Attacks on Americans – In the newest of the scandals, Eric Holder today admitted that four Americans have died due to drone strikes overseas. Holder said 3 of the 4 “weren’t targeted”. Sorry, but given the disappointing levels of paranoia and secrecy within the Obama administration, saying they were killed but “not targeted” doesn’t bring a lot of comfort. Killing American citizens without trial is one hell of a scary path to follow, regardless of the alleged terrorist or criminal activities of the target.
I obviously lean pretty far to the left…but…I’m becoming increasingly disappointed in the Obama administration. The political naivety of Obama’s first term seems to be swinging towards a more secretive, paranoid, and closed administration as his second term gets underway. What happened to the promises of a more open and honest government? What happened to promises for ENDING the brutal practices begun under the Bush administration (ever gonna close Guantanamo, Mr. Obama)?
The right’s pure hatred for Obama certainly has led to gridlock in Washington, and has certainly fueled the flames of the “scandals”. The right’s attempts to DIRECTLY link Obama, or Hillary Clinton, with these scandals is an overreach on their part, and distracts from any serious discussion of the underlying issues. It’s pretty obvious that Obama (or Hillary Clinton) didn’t play any role in the decisions that affected security in Benghazi, and any attempt to turn word-choice after the fact into a “scandal” is failing miserably. It’s pretty obvious that Obama himself had no role in the IRS ‘targeting’ of Tea Party groups.
However, despite the right overplaying their hand and blowing the scandals out of proportion, Obama certainly isn’t doing himself any favors lately. He’s rapidly losing any chance to accomplish anything on his 2nd-term agenda, and if he doesn’t make a bold move and quash the scandal machine, it’s going to be his own political failings that are blamed for a lame-duck 2nd term, rather than the blame falling on Republicans hell-bent on gridlock.