On May 16, the New York Times editorial board was appalled by Republican obstructionism for stalling Obama’s agenda, and said that nothing really bad happened at the IRS. All of this scandal talk is a diversion.
When politicians want to turn scandals into metaphors, actual details of wrongdoing or incompetence no longer matter. In fact, the details of the troubles swirling around the White House this week are bluntly contradicting Republicans who want to combine them into a seamless narrative of tyrannical government on the rampage.
The Internal Revenue Service, according to an inspector general’s report, was not reacting to political pressure or ideology when it singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny in evaluating requests for tax exemptions. It acted inappropriately because employees couldn’t understand inadequate guidelines. The tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, never a scandal to begin with, has devolved into a turf-protection spat between government agencies, and the e-mail messages Republicans long demanded made clear that there was no White House cover-up.
The only example of true government overreach was the seizure of The Associated Press’s telephone records, the latest episode in the Obama administration’s Javert-like obsession with leakers in its midst.
They “couldn’t understand the inadequate guidelines.” So, is the IRS is staffed with mentally challenged personnel? That alone would be a scandal, with sub-par government workers in charge of collecting revenue. On Benghazi, twelve talking point revisions, and omitting key facts about the culprits, (cough, al-Qaeda, cough) isn’t a cause for concern? Furthermore, the president watched the attack in real-time. Did he watch Ambassador Stevens die? I think he did, but that’s a different matter.
Yet, the New York Times, in their infinite wisdom, said that what’s really being ignored is the impact of the sequester.
While Washington was arguing about e-mail messages about Benghazi, it wasn’t paying attention to the hundreds of thousands of defense furloughs announced this week because of the Republican-imposed sequester, which will become a significant drag on economic growth. It wasn’t focusing on the huge drop in the deficit, which has yet to silence the party’s demands for more austerity. And apparently it’s considered old news that Republicans are blocking several of the president’s cabinet nominees.
For those who are wondering whether this week’s political windstorms will hinder Mr. Obama’s second-term agenda, here’s a bulletin: That agenda was long ago imperiled by the obstruction of Republicans. (See Guns. Jobs. Education. And, very possibly, Immigration.)
The NYT editorial staff thinks that $44 billion in cuts will impact the economy. That’s laughable, especially when Medicare fraud costs us $100-300 billion a year, which is three times what we spend on education – and that’s from just one program. So, don’t deflect with sequester because you’re just insulting everyone’s intelligence. Talking points from the budget debate won’t save Obama, or his legacy after this fiasco.