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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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May 24, 2013 - 11:57 am

We’re now two full weeks into the IRS abuse scandal. Lois Lerner planted the question that kicked the whole thing off on May 10. Today, she is on paid administrative leave and has been slapped with a personal lawsuit by Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote. The new head of the IRS has asked her to resign, and she has refused. She went to Congress, took the oath, claimed her innocence and then clammed up, all of that happening in a way that exposes her to contempt of Congress charges and even possible jail time if she doesn’t talk. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was fake-fired by President Obama, and a replacement for him has been named. Hearings have been held, more names have been reported, more abuse identified, more IRS officials implicated. Also, in that two weeks we have gone from the White House claiming that no one there knew anything before Lerner’s planted question, to “Yeah, a couple people knew” to “Oh, by the way, the deputy counsel helped plan the planted question tactic.” When he was asked directly if he knew anything about it all last week, President Obama changed the subject. Then yesterday, he changed the subject again with a big speech, trying to send Americans and Congress off chasing hares at Gitmo.

If Obama really really cared about closing Gitmo, he would come up with a plan to actually do it. He could have done that at any time of his choosing since January 2009. His big idea in yesterday’s speech was to have a divided Congress come up with a plan. That’ll work out into the House saying “Put the terrorists under Yucca Mountain” and the Senate saying “Send them to the same place Nakoula Nakoula is doing time.”

But with all of these storylines and headfakes going on, is the scandal — the environment of scandals — hurting Obama in popular opinion? Maybe no, maybe so, says Rasmussen.

So far, there are three major issues — the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives, the Justice Department’s secret media probe and the circumstances surrounding the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi last Sept. 11.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, speaking on CNN, dismissed “the premise, the idea that these were scandals.” However, voters see it differently. Just over half believe each of the three qualifies as a scandal. Only one out of eight sees them as no big deal.

Voters also reject the notion that the IRS targeting was the work of some low-level rogue employees. Just 20 percent believe that to be the case. A slightly larger number (26 percent) thinks the decision came from IRS headquarters. But 39 percent believe the decision to target conservative groups was made by someone who works at the White House.

This isn’t just a case of people believing politicians always behave this way. Only 19 percent think the IRS usually targets political opponents of the president.

Skepticism is so high that few are convinced the IRS acted alone. Sixty percent believe that other federal agencies also were used to target the tea party and other conservative groups. Ominously for Democrats, two out of three unaffiliated voters share that view.

So, why hasn’t it hurt the president’s overall job approval? Some believe it has. The theory is that with a recovering economy, his ratings should be higher. Another possibility is that the president’s base may have doubts, but they are still sticking by their man.

Or, they’re low-information voters. Or, they’re fine with the president punishing his enemies, as long as it’s this president doing the punishing. Or a mix of all that and other things thrown in.

Rasmussen also suggests other ways that the scandals may be starting to drag the president.

For example, at Rasmussen Reports we regularly ask voters which party they trust to deal with a range of issues including government ethics and corruption. Before the scandals broke, Democrats had an 8-point advantage on this particular issue. But there has been a 10-point swing, and the GOP now has a 2-point edge.

Among unaffiliated voters, Republicans enjoy a 23-point advantage on the ethics front. Before the controversies, it was a toss-up.

The last week has seen serious slippage in the president’s numbers when it comes to national security. From the moment Obama took office, he has always received better ratings on national security matters than he did on the economy. However, just 39 percent of voters now give him good or excellent marks in this area. That’s down 7 points from a week ago and the lowest ratings he’s had on national security since Osama bin Laden was killed two years ago.

A lot has happened in two weeks, but in people’s lives, two weeks is a relatively short time. The non-info-junkies out there aren’t hanging on every word or nuance of the Obama scandals. But the totality of the scandals may be setting in.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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I'm amazed at Rasmussen's results. I'm inadvertently forced to watch our local ABC news in order to get the weather report and yesterday I saw what I believe is the first mention of the IRS scandal. It was a sad commentary about how sequestration cuts have forced IRS workers to take one day of un-paid leave, which happened to be the Friday of a long week-end holiday. How they suffer! I'm pleased to report that this ABC affiliate is very much on top of the Florida lesbian pedophile case, though, even giving information so that viewers can make donations to the poor girl's defense fund.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The last week has seen serious slippage in the president’s numbers when it comes to national security. From the moment Obama took office, he has always received better ratings on national security matters than he did on the economy. However, just 39 percent of voters now give him good or excellent marks in this area. That’s down 7 points from a week ago and the lowest ratings he’s had on national security since Osama bin Laden was killed two years ago."

Sounds like Obama could get his approval ratings substantially higher by just killing Bin Laden again. Think anyone would notice if he tried that? A lot of people must have forgotten that Bin Laden is dead now, right?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Our "economy" is a grifter who just collected all the money and is getting in the taxi to leave town. It's gonna be ugly folks. Buy land.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Scandals have a shelf life of a carton of milk. Totalitarianism has a shelf life of uranium.

I'm not worried that the American public isn't paying attention to the scandals. I'm worried that they aren't paying attention to the overthrow attempt that's the source of the scandals.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
True. You could fire the whole Obama administration but the beliefs that motivated them would remain - in government, in the larger culture, in the minds of our fellow citizens. Only time will change that. Not in our watch...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
""" The theory is that with a recovering economy, his ratings should be higher """

Oh, the economy is "recovering?" Really?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I guess. Pay no attention to being permanently part of the ranks of the underemployed and the rising cost of just about everything ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama's base eroding, huh? Well, we had a sinkhole here in DC a couple of days ago, but it was over on 14th Street - nowhere near the White House.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If only these nitwits had been paying attention back in '12 (or even '08) we wouldn't be in this mess.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And yet we're rushing headlong into another massive government program, i.e., "comprehensive immigration reform." Could anything better reaffirm the contempt the establishment GOP feels toward the grassroots, or even America itself? We need a total ban on big government initiatives until these scandals have been thoroughly examined and understood. That's just common sense. And yet the quislings on our side see it as an OPPORTUNITY to push more government down our throats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And, dontcha know, the scandals are allowing that legislation to fly under the radar.

Incidentally, does anyone actually know what the "biometrics database" thing buried in that legislation is actually all about? And isn't there a provision in there for a national ID card or something?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Biometrics is stuff like fingerprints and DNA, and whatever else they can come up with, like maybe eye pics.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
After 2012 I think it's probably best to take Rasmussen results with a shaker of salt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That depends. Rasmussen et al were playing their numbers straight, whereas it very much looks like the sheer amount of vote fraud was what turned the election; they didn't account for that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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