Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Which of the current scandals do you think is potentially most damaging to the Obama Administration? Why?
The Razor: I have to pick one? Really?
Although I believe the Benghazi Scandal has more weight in the short term since it undermines the administration’s foreign policy credibility, I’d have to go with the IRS scandal because it undermines the liberal argument that is the foundation of the Obama administration: A powerful federal government is in people’s best interests. This argument is predicated on the progressive belief taken from the works of Karl Marx that capitalism is an inherently unfair system that left alone will create a polarized society between the haves and the have-nots, and it is up to the government to distribute the wealth from the haves and give it to the have-nots. An entity like the IRS is required to perform this wealth redistribution, so it plays a much more central role in progressive politics, proven by its use in Obamacare, than it does in conservative politics.
An IRS that is seen as a wing of a political party loses its credibility. It becomes hated by those whose ideology it attacks, but even those whose ideology it acts on behalf of should be concerned because of the precedent such partisan behavior sets. Someday the White House will be in the hands of the Republicans and the Secretary of the Treasury will be firmly in the GOP camp, so while the IRS may be attacking conservatives today, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to see it being used to target liberals and progressives in the future. Liberals know this, which is why even those who called upon the IRS to investigate the Tea Party like Senator Carl Levin are now acting shocked after it had actually done so.
On May 5th, Obama spoke at Ohio State’s commencement ceremony and told the graduates to reject the voices that warn of government tyranny. Days later, the IRS scandal breaks and those voices warning of tyranny are proven right. The timing couldn’t have been better and I’m sure that Obama is blaming Bush for it.
Sara Noble at The Independent Sentinel: I think the IRS scandal is the most damaging. It affects people in a bipartisan way. It has serious ramifications for Obamacare and its going to make it’s way back up to Obama.
The Noisy Room: There’s certainly an argument to be made for each of the fiascoes considered here. Benghazi was appalling and quite possibly should result in big names receiving big sentences for manslaughter via depraved indifference. It was bad, it was heinous, it was unconscionable. The AP phone tapping outrage is certainly a worthy — one might even say impeachable — entanglement and should result in prosecutions, lawsuits and political smack-downs. However, bugging the press is little more than an extension of bugging the whole of the American public and the public at large seems to be fine with having no privacy. Perhaps the
public needs this wake-up call to reconsider the propriety of that..
On the other hand, the IRS affair is an order of magnitude more oppressive, as it has an element of violence at its center, as we will see below.
Without a doubt, the most damaging is the IRS scandal. When our government can use the IRS as a tool of intimidation, subverting the Constitution and all its guarantees and protections, then the American people become the persecuted — the targets of a tyrannical government run amok. One where the silencing of dissent becomes commonplace and the policing of American citizens becomes the law of the land. It is the exact opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended and more closely resembles the jackbooted tactics of the Soviet Union than the United States. I ask, what have we become? Do you recognize your country any more?
American history is replete with scandals, but they pale in comparison to Obama’s IRS goons and his secretive tactics. All I hear is that this is not a scandal, that it does not matter. There is no there, there. Oh, but it does. The very fabric of our freedoms is at stake and it is being shredded by those we entrusted to protect it. The show of force and intimidation through the use of the IRS should make America shudder to her core and it brings into doubt the last election’s results. Not only through fraudulent voting and counting, but through the suppression and squelching of the Tea Party movement and the legitimate voting rights of
millions of conservatives. This was no incompetent bungle; this was a planned and heavily used tactic from the beginning of Obama’s reign and you can see that on display with the intentionally planted question that started this ball rolling. They knew that the lid on this was about to be blown by whistle blowers and tried to head it off. Instead, reaping unintended consequences, they have blown it wide open and brought a new life and fight to the Tea Party movement. They have brought lawsuits to the IRS and the downfall of a progressive government as well.
This affront is such a horrendous abrogation of the First Amendment, it is staggering. The IRS should be shut down and a flat tax immediately instituted. The corruption in our government is systemic and massive hearings, firings and prison terms should be sought quickly and stringently. America’s churches, special interest groups and her citizens have been viciously and blatantly targeted. The damage to the Obama Administration is complete – it is time for impeachment proceedings to begin in earnest.
Liberty’s Spirit: There is no worse scandal between Benghazi, the IRS targeting and the violation of AP emails.
Benghazi was a failure of immeasurable cowardice and depraved indifference for the lives of those Obama sent into harms way. But the cover-up of the Benghazi failure is an attack on the First Amendment. The lie that a video caused the attacks, led to the imprisonment of the film’s maker. The Administration spent tens of thousands of our tax dollars on a video denouncing this anti-Moslem video instead of teaching the Arab and Moslem world about freedom of speech. Obama went so far as to even castigate freedom of speech at the United Nations. The cover-up of the incompetent decision making related to Benghazi is also in and of itself an abuse of power. The President is answerable to the people and when Presidents lie to the people, when they cover-up the true story, when they hide the fact that our enemies are very active, a Presidency no longer serves the people. He no longer protects us from enemies both foreign and domestic. The fact they Obama’s administration used their power to destroy dissenting people’s careers either in the military, the intelligence services or the Foreign Service shows a depravity not seen since Nixon and quite frankly tried during the Clinton years.
The AP email scandal was a direct assault upon the First Amendment freedom of the press as well as an attack on search and seizure and due process. While it has become a running joke how this administration whines about Fox News, the MSM in general is quite frankly more like Obama’s version of Pravda rather than a vigorous investigative body interested in maintaining democracy. So this recent assault didn’t make sense until you read the reports that the AP did not hold off on a story for the length of time Obama ordered. Hence garnering punishment for their independence with the intrusion into their reporting and privacy. This latest assault upon the Bill of Rights in order to get the press in line and do as they are instructed violates one of most basic democratic precepts.
The IRS scandal is a chilling use of power to silence or terrorize citizens that do not agree with Administration policies. Whether the parties involved were conservatives, Tea Party members, those that taught about the Bill of Rights or pro-Israel groups that disagree with Obama’s approach in the Middle East, the fact that the IRS has the power to come in and destroy your life has a chilling effect on freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to petition your government and the right to disagree with your government – a very basic tenet of a democratic society. When the IRS is used to punish your political rivals and reward your political bedfellows it becomes a tool of tyranny instead of a tool of national security. It is telling that the administration is trying to swipe this aside with the departure of Commissioner Miller, who was gong to be leaving in a month anyway. Their contempt for the American people is insulting to say the least and problematic for our democracy in the long run.
In truth, all of these scandals are examples of the Obama administrations ideology of contempt for the People of the United States, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You cannot view one without viewing the other. They are the conjoined triplets of a descent into the kind of oligarchy you find in the Third World and developing nations. Luckily however, there still exists those in Congress who see the danger to our Republic and are trying to get to the truth of all these matters.
Rhymes With Right: Which current scandal will do the most harm to Obama and his administration? That is quite a question and one that I have to consider quite carefully.
I know which scandal ought to cause the most damage — Benghazi, which flows from Obama’s unconstitutional Libyan War and demonstrates that he puts politics above foreign policy and military concerns and the lives of Americans placed in harms way by acts of terrorism. That is doubly true given the cover-up and the effort to blame the exercise of the constitutional right to speak freely and to criticize (even harshly) a religion not one’s own. But the reality is that the American people don’t care about foreign policy scandals even though they should — especially when those most culpable include the President and his heir apparent.
And I know which one should blow over in short order as a matter that is lot’s of smoke with no fire — the AP phone records scandal. After all, the leaking of classified information is a crime, and it makes perfect sense to determine who the culprit is and charge them appropriately. However, the press will treat this one as a bigger deal than it is (and there are important aspects to it, like Eric Holder’s role), and it is likely not to go away.
Which leads me to the one most likely to do lasting damage to Obama and his administration — the IRS scandal. The irony of this is that there is likely to be no presidential involvement in the scandal at all, just lots of dirty appointees and low-level civil service personnel. But we know that there are those close to the President who have tried to insulate him from it and who helped cover it up until after the election — and it could have changed the course of the election, have no doubt — and who continue to minimize it in an attempt to safeguard Obama and his inner circle. It is likely that Obama will find himself forced to appoint a special prosecutor to deal with this matter now that we know his former Treasury Secretary/current Chief of Staff Jack Lew knew about the IRS wrongdoing a year ago and took no action despite knowing of IRS denials of targeting Obama’s political opponents. The matter now rests to Obama for the DOJ to credibly investigate. Obama is unlikely to be implicated — but the image of him as a hands-off president oblivious to what is going on in his administration will be quite harmful entering the 2014 election season.
Of course, maybe none of these matters will do Obama harm? Maybe the AP scandal will flare up because of media attention or the Benghazi scandal will become hot due to some revelation. Perhaps the IRS scandal will fizzle once it becomes clear there is no presidential involvement. And perhaps most explosively, perhaps the AP records case will cause the press to more closely scrutinize Fast and and Furious, Benghazi, and the IRS affair and lead to explosive revelations regarding one or the other. So while I’m sticking with my suggestion that the IRS scandal will be the most harmful, I would not be at all surprised to be wrong.
JoshuaPundit: First off, a lot depends on what we mean by ‘damage’. I seriously doubt that Barack Obama will be impeached and removed from office, much as he richly deserves it. Barack Hussein Obama could borrow a 9 mm from one of the Secret Service guys, stroll into a convenience store, shoot the clerk, rob the register and walk out and I would still be flabbergasted if a 2/3 majority Democrat controlled Senate voted to impeach him. Aside from loyalty to party over country, there are two other reasons.
First, since the Democrats depend on racial identity politics, and black voters overwhelmingly support this president, even when his policies severely affect them adversely. Impeaching Barack Obama would mean the end of the virtually monolithic black vote Democrats depend on in their urban strongholds. Second, the president controls a huge database full of intimate information on Democrat voters, donors and supporters. The president’s surrogates have already made it clear that they are going to retain this database and lease it out as circumstances warrant to finance President Obama’s radical agenda even after his term is over. I doubt any Democrat politician, especially any with presidential ambitions is going to cut themselves off from that treasure trove unless it could seriously affect their re-election.
Just as Bill Clinton escaped open and shut perjury and obstruction of justice charges that were heavy enough to get him disbarred, I think it’s likely that Barack Obama will finish out his term.
This could change if the senate changes, but unfortunately, the way the Republicans are conducting themselves lately, I doubt they will take over the Senate in 2014. Hopefully I’m wrong, but then again, President Biden??!??
As to the scandals themselves, while the IRS scandal (and perhaps Benghazi, although the media’s already trying to bury it) will affect a number of underlings, perhaps even present and past cabinet members, I think the AP scandal is the most damaging in the immediate future, because I’ve noticed a definite change in tone from the media since that happened. Even subservient little toadies like ‘Tingles’ Matthews on MSNBC are voicing some anger over the regime’s behavior lately.
Tyrants always overreach.
The chief value of the IRS scandal is that it woke people up to the essentially totalitarian nature of this president and his followers. With the IRS controlling ObamaCare, a lot of Americans are seriously afraid that if they don’t ‘vote right’ and donate to the proper politicos, they’re going to be placed at the end of the line or even have badly needed medical procedures denied as the inevitable rationing sets in. And they’re absolutely right to fear this.
Much will depend on how outraged the media is, whether one of Obama’s inner circle facing serious charges is willing to turn on the president or whether a clear spokesperson emerges who can make the case for impeachment strongly enough to the American people it simply can’t be ignored. The worsening economic situation might influence that.
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: The IRS thing most def. Using the power of an allegedly neutral IRA to crush political dissent is not only uncool – it’s unAmerican.
The IRS touches lottie dottie everybody – people will NOT dig that kinda action and if lucky, will LOL any chance of the same corrupted agency taking over health care or any expandingment of government
It speaks of the political corruption of a major and crucial governmental agency to whose rules and regulations every American — everyone who has a job or a bank account, or who engages in a financial transaction — is subject. Most people will never have an interaction with the State Department or the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the IRS deals with an intimate and sensitive part of your life, your personal finances. It is the revenue-collecting arm of the government. It is needed. It does necessary work.
If what happened at the IRS is not stopped now, it will never stop. The next White House will come in and they’ll know they can do it too. And if they’re unlucky enough to be caught, they’ll have a have a few uncomfortable moments in Congress, and a few people who were going to retire in the summer will retire in the spring. And it will all go on.
Abuse of power and “unequal treatment under the law” is 44″s most damaging scandal.
Bookworm Room: The IRS scandal is absolutely the worst scandal ever in American history because, unlike all other scandals, which were “insider politics” this one sees the federal government reaching out and using its vast taxing and police powers to stifle dissent from Democrat orthodoxy. It’s irrelevant if Obama knew what was going on. If he knew, he’s utterly corrupt. If he didn’t know, he’s willfully blind or ineffectual the point of stupidity, given that his job is as America’s Chief Executive Officer. Regardless, though, it appears that the IRS was completely happy, spontaneously or when given marching orders, to abuse its position of trust.
The only problem, though, is getting the American people to care. I have no idea how one gets that message out. I’ve long thought Al Gore the worst type of self-aggrandizing moron (and it’s surprising how well that plays on the Left), but he definitely had a point when he spoke of the frog in the boiling water. We know that’s not true (frogs aren’t as dumb as citizens anesthetized by scandals, handouts, bread, and circuses), but it certainly makes the point. Americans seem resigned to boiling to death without protest.
Well, there you have it.
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