Just a few days ago we had three scandals that the pundits said was going to make Obama look like Nixon. If you haven't been following closely, they were: Benghazi, the Yemeni leak (AP subpoenas) and the IRS. Everything seems to have dissipated. Let's review.
The Republicans have been beating the drum over Benghazi, seeing it as a way to damage both Obama and HIllary Clinton, a potential Presidential candidate in 2016. The first thing was whether Obama said "terrorist" or "an act of terror". Now, I was an English major in college many years ago, and really, this is parsing to the nth degree. And it didn't make a difference anyway. Next, there was the "coverup" of whether or not it was a terrorist cell that did the act. This was amplified by the "leaked memos" reported by ABC, except that they weren't the leaked memos at all but written interpretations of the memos produced by some anonymous Republican staffer, as CNN and others discovered. It turns out that the real memos weren't all that damaging to the Administration, basically documenting a turf war between the State Department and the CIA, with various disputes on what they thought happened versus what they knew. The White House was pretty much out of the loop.
Republicans rely on the short memory span of the American public, since there were thirteen embassy attacks during the Bush years. Well, what did the Republicans do when faced with all the embassy attacks of the Bush years? They CUT the budget for embassy security. You'd think that they'd be embarrassed by that. But, no, they aren't.
When the Associated Press ran a story blowing the cover of the infiltration of a Yemeni terrorist cell, Republicans in Congress decried the leak and demanded a complete investigation. The Justice Department subpoenaed the phone records of numerous reporters at AP to find out the source of the leak and Republicans decried that the Department of Justice would threaten the freedom of the press. You don't like that? Well, since 1979 and Smith v. Maryland cops can look at LUDs (local usage details, phone records) without a subpoena. Between the laws passed immediately following 9/11 and the FISA bill of 2008 there's not a whole lot of your communications the government can't look at. Some of the Republicans in Congress thought this might be a great way to nail the Attorney General, Eric Holder. Unfortunately for them, Holder had been privy to the information about the Yemeni cell and was himself one of the many government employees being investigated so he recused himself and appointed the Assistant AG to lead the investigation. It was the Assistant AG who subpoenaed the phone records.
Since Republicans have been behind just about every law which gives the government the right to stick its nose into everyone's business (by all means go back and look at the roll calls of the last fifteen years of homeland security laws) it seems a little hypocritical that they'd make a ruckus over this.
Well, what about the IRS thing? In that one IRS employees were a little too scrupulous in examining Tea Party groups trying to get tax-exempt status. When it broke Obama launched an investigation. The acting head of the IRS (and another official) resigned/were fired. Here's the problem: when the IRS was investigating those Tea Party groups Douglas H. Shulman was the IRS Commissioner. He was a Bush appointee.
So what do we have?
Here's two terms you need to learn:
The first term is bad-jacketing. That means making someone, in this case Obama, look bad by putting things around him that look bad. You can tell a President is being bad-jacketed when something that he has no control over is pinned on him. Obama's IRS. Obama's Department of Justice. Obama's State Department. This is a list of terrorist attacks that occurred during the Bush years:
January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al Qaeda attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.
October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of "Bali Bombings." No fatalities.
February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.
May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al Qaeda terrorists storm the diplomatic compound, killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.
July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.
December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.
March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name "David Foy." This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what's considered American soil.)
September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar" storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.
January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.
March 18, 2008. Sana'a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.
July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.
September 17, 2008. Sana'a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.
If you hold Obama responsible for Benghazi, do you hold Bush responsible? You might hold Congressional Republicans responsible for Benghazi for cutting the security budget for embassies.
Likewise, if you don't like the government listening in on your phone calls, you might not want to vote for people (read: Republicans) who keep voting for laws to allow the government to listen in on your phone calls.
Finally, please note that the guy who is being grilled in Congress, Steven Miller, had not been appointed the temporary head of IRS until after the 2012 election. While the IRS was looking at those Tea Party groups, it was a Bush appointee who headed the agency.
The second term is bust out. I first heard of this term when VP GHW Bush oversaw the deregulation of the Savings and Loans. The term itself is a term of organized crime. The best way to rob a bank is to own one. That, essentially, was the S&L crisis. It wasn't surprising that many of the bigger bust outs were done by people connected to intelligence circles. You know, where Bush #41 worked prior to becoming VP. Bust outs work in the federal government too. If you put people who want to destroy a federal agency in positions of power you can go far in destroying it. The Postal Service has been going through a decades-long stretch of bad management who wanted to destroy the Post Office. The Congressional law that requires the USPS to pay for health insurance 75 years in advance, that is, to pay for health insurance for employees who haven't yet been born, was the coup de grace. But appointing someone whose term runs into the next President's term works too. Douglas Shulman was appointed in 2008 and lasted until the 2012 election.
So which scandal do you hate Obama over? The embassy attack? The Department of Justice investigating the top secret leak? Or let's blame Obama for what happened under Bush's appointee at the IRS. Your choice.