I have to admire the tenacity of the Tea Party and other like-minded ultraconservatives; they never give up hope that they will find something to destroy President Obama. For those too entranced by their fever dreams of impeachment or resignation to see the end game, here is what is going to happen: absolutely nothing. House Republicans will grill mid and upper level bureaucrats, the Right Wing Noise Machine will spew trumped up outrage and hyperbole will continue to replace substance and actually governing. In the end, however, this will all end up like all the other faux “scandals” dreamed up to fill the idea and policy void of the current Republican Party, grist for the fundraising and outrage mills. America cares about issues and these current “scandals” have no there, there.
The dead Benghazi horse the Republicans have been beating since the 2012 presidential election keeps their base energized, but reality based Americans see this for what it is, pure politics. Mitt Romney tried to use the Benghazi talking points against the president and Obama’s reaction was a smile and the now classic line, “please proceed, governor”. The ensuing humiliation on national television doomed whatever slim chance Mitt Romney ever had to win the presidency. If Republicans think Benghazi will help them defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, the collective reaction of the Democratic Party is, please proceed Mr. Issa.
Next in things that make Republicans swoon is the IRS selectively scrutinizing Tea Party organizations 501(c)(4) applications for non-profit designation. The problem with this “scandal” is that internal IRS emails show this plan was cooked up by low level, career IRS employees working in the Cincinnati office and looking for paperwork shortcuts. The practices they undertook were stopped immediately once they became known by upper IRS management. The White House had no connection and the president was not even informed until just this past April.
Republicans also allege that the Obama administration did something wrong when it used the Patriot Act to legally subpoena Associated Press phone records to find out who leaked top secret, national security information to an AP reporter. No wiretaps were ever involved. They may be confusing this with the illegal, warrantless NSA wiretaps approved George Dubya Bush. When the New York Times broke that story in 2005, many of the same Republicans now crying crocodile tears were the first to demand a criminal investigation of the newspaper. Political hypocrisy at its finest.
We are now hearing talk of impeachment and that this is all worse than Watergate. This is absurd, there are very few things in United States history worse than Watergate. For those of you from Rio Linda, let us recap. During the 1972 presidential campaign political operatives in the White House hatched a plan to burglarize the Democratic headquarters located in the Watergate office complex. The burglars were discovered by a security guard and subsequently arrested. The cover up of this crime was run from the Oval Office by Nixon and his top advisers, they enjoined the FBI and CIA to hide evidence and shut down the investigation. Secret political slush funds, kept in White House safes, were used to bribe the burglars for their silence. In the end 48 government officials were found guilty of crimes, including the Attorney General, the White House Chief of Staff and most of the senior advisers to President Nixon. Nixon himself finally resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974.
The only other scandal that rises to Watergate level was the Iran-Contra debacle during the Reagan administration. Reagan administration officials sold missiles to terrorist Iran and in defiance of U.S. law, sent the profits to right wing rape and death squads in Nicaragua. Criminal prosecutions were cut short when President George Poppy Bush pardoned six top Reagan administration officials, including his Secretary of Defense, his National Security Adviser and the CIA Chief of Covert Ops. And we have not even touched on Dick Cheney’s phony WMDs and the disastrous, unnecessary war in Iraq.
Reckless and wanton abuses of the Constitution and the rule of law appear to be the hallmark of Republican administrations, yet we get only silence from the right. Ginned up, faux scandals may make good political weapons against Democratic presidents that they cannot defeat at the ballot box, but to the chagrin of conservative Chicken Littles, a majority of Americans know that the sky is not falling.