January 29, 2014

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Bridgegate Is Nothing Compared To Obama’s Payback Theater.

Consider the government shutdown last fall when the president authorized the needless closing of federal parks and museums in an attempt to smear Republicans. Obama’s team got so carried away that they even tried to close state-run parks in Wisconsin that weren’t dependent on federal funds. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had to defy federal orders to keep them open.

Then there were the Tea Party groups that challenged the Obama agenda and soon found themselves targeted and harassed by the IRS. Yes, the tax official who ran the program claimed her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a congressional hearing, but don’t expect any criminal charges to emerge from the IRS scandal. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department sees no evil in it, perhaps because the government attorney in charge of the investigation is a long-time Obama donor.

Another example of “the Chicago Way” as applied in Washington emerged this week in a legal filing by Standard and Poor’s, which faces federal fraud charges. An executive recounted how then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the feds would seek payback for S&P downgrading the U.S. credit rating. Recall that back in August 2011, S&P dropped its credit-worthiness rating for the U.S. from AAA to just AA+. It was a reasonable decision, given the staggering U.S. debt load and the chronic inability of Congress to agree on annual budgets.

It was also highly embarrassing to a White House then gearing up for a re-election campaign. Two days after S&P’s announcement, McGraw Hill CEO Harold McGraw got a call from a steaming-mad Geithner, who told him the rating agency had made a huge mistake.

I can’t help but feel that the press’s focus on Christie is not just the obvious political shilling, but also, in some sense, a displacement response. Bullied by Obama, but unwilling to go after him for it, they turn their attention to smaller-scale targets that are safe.