Producing 'Scandal Exhaustion'
In discussing the Obama administration's most recent entries to its already exhaustive roster of scandals, we could start by trying to figure out which one is the most important.
The answer, unfortunately, is that each of the three most recent scandals Team Obama has inflicted on the nation is the most important in its own way.
There's Benghazi, where an American ambassador and three other brave Americans were attacked by and died at the hands of al-Qaeda and AQ-inspired terrorists. During the attack, they were denied the military assistance which might have rescued them. Afterwards, the administration concocted an utterly fabricated story of the attack's motivation, complete with the imprisonment to this day of a man who had nothing to do with the event, and hid what really happened to make it all fit a palatable pre-election template.
For those who believe that a government owes its citizens the truth regardless of the political season, and that failure to provide it during a contested election campaign means that its results are arguably illegitimate, Benghazi, despite the appearance of other scandals which seem to have been deliberately timed to distract the nation's attention (more on that later), still deserves consideration as Number One in the Obama scandal hit parade.
Then there's the Internal Revenue Service's behavior during the past several years, starting with its deliberate singling out of applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party, conservative, and religious groups for overbearing and harassing scrutiny, unconscionable invasions of privacy, and indefensible delays, while applications from leftist and shady groups sailed through without a hitch.
One outfit definitely in the shady category was the Barack H. Obama Foundation, headed by the president’s half-brother. Despite the fact that it had "operated illegally for years," Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations office, approved the charity's application in June 2011 -- retroactive to December 2008. Last Monday, the Daily Caller's Charles C. Johnson found that BHOF "does not appear ever to have been based" where it has claimed to be in several years of tax filings.
As I noted last week, the IRS's requests seem "to have been designed to tie up as much of applicant organizations’ time and resources as possible to distract them from their core activities." They were also often accompanied by copious doses of implied intimidation relating to applicants' presumed political and religious views.
The agency demanded that one Tea Party group which reported having a book club send it a list of all books the club had read and a review of each. One of the applying group’s leaders defiantly “sent them the actual books and told them to read them themselves.”
Lerner admitted on May 10 that the IRS had in some instances asked for donors' names. What she didn't reveal is that, among other things, it also frequently asked for "a list of all issues that are important to the organization and ... its position regarding such issues"; "whether the officer, director, etc., has run or will run for public office"; and "conversations and discussions members and participants had" during their groups' activities.
Existing and nascent religion-oriented organizations were also on the IRS's radar. Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Graham family’s international humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, has accused the IRS of "trying to intimidate us." The IRS asked the Coalition for Life of Iowa to "please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers." It denied Cherish Life Ministries the tax-exempt status it sought "because of its position on abortion," and told the group it would only receive it if it promised to "present both sides of the abortion argument." Last time I checked, Planned Parenthood does nothing to present the pro-life side.