Why Aren’t Obama’s Scandals Gaining Traction? Because the public knows the messengers have no credibility.

Bachmann's retirement means a lot of fact-checkers will be laid off.Godwin’s Law states that the longer any political argument goes on, the greater the likelihood is someone will compare the other side to Hitler. It’s a sound law that has withstood the test of time. But not only is it reliable, it points out a very important point when arguing politics: eventually one side… clearly seeing that it is losing… will try to minimize the misdeeds of their side by comparing them to the most objectionable thing everyone can agree upon: The Nazi’s. “What your side did/doing is just like what the Nazi’s did” or “What my side did is nothing compared to what the Nazi’s did”. “Mugsy’s Corollary” to Godwin’s Law is that Republicans will compare “fake scandals” invented by the GOP to very real scandals that took place under a Republican Administration (Nixon/Reagan/Bush-II) to suggest: “both sides do it”, “both sides are equally guilty” and lately, “Bush’s scandals were nothing compared to Obama’s.” We saw it during the Clinton Administration. It seemed like every week there was a new “scandal”. Rachel Maddow reminded everyone on her show last Thursday of how the GOP spent weeks (and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars) to investigate “the White House Christmas Card List”. I’d add to that “infinite playlist” of imaginary scandals: the investigation into “Socks”… the White House cat’s… fanclub letters (“who paid for the postage?”) GOP scandal-mongering in the late 90’s didn’t just border on the ridiculous, it sailed over that cliff like Thelma & Louise. The initial unspoken intent of the scandal-mongering back then was to limit Bill Clinton to a single term. But following Clinton’s re-election, the GOP scandal-machine went into overdrive to try and ensure he didn’t finish out his second term. And now we are seeing it again. In Obama’s first term, with no real scandals to pursue, Conservatives prattled on about “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” and the “Secret Muslim” nonsense to try and paint the president as an “other”. But by 2012, with desperation creeping in, we started hearing about “Fast and Furious” and (late in the game): “Benghazi”. And now, just months into Obama’s second term, we have no fewer than THREE almost legitimate “scandals” (“Benghazi”, “IRS scrutinizing Tea Party groups applying for tax-free status”, and the subpoena of reporter’s phone records to track a WH leak) with (almost certainly) more on the way, Republicans are crowing about a recent poll that shows President Obama Job Approval falling three whole points (polls are a fickle thing) the same month The Stock Market hits another record high, new home sales are up 10.3% in just one year, and Consumer Confidence hits “a five year high”. A 3-point decline is cause for celebration? (Fox “news” Sunday spent a good portion of their show yesterday making hay of it.) I guess they have to take their victories where they can find them. Maybe these “scandals” aren’t gaining any traction because they’re not scandals?

If I hadn’t heard it with my own ears, I’d of of thought it was a joke or taken out of context. Two notorious Right-wing bomb-throwers… RW radio host Laura Ingraham and WaPo’s columnist Jeniffer Rubin both tried to compare the made-up “IRS scandal” to the outing of undercover CIA Agent Valery Plame:

On subject of AG Holder investigating a Fox reporter to track down a WH leak:

Ingraham: …just like that: “We [the AG’s office] never thought we would prosecute him [Fox reporter James Rosen].” Well, what were you really after here? I think… there’s so many questions.” … “for people to just blow this off [as] overreach by the Republicans. How many times did we hear about overreach in the Valery Plame prosecution? I don’t remember one time.

Rubin: “But he [Obama] has not sent out an order as George Bush did in the Valery Plame decision, “I do not want anyone in this Administration to refuse to cooperate.

“Mugsy’s Corollary” in action. These two pundits are ACTUALLY claiming the Bush Administration was “cooperative” in the Plame investigation. Is that how you remember it? Because I sure as hell don’t. The person all of us are quite certain gave the order to leak the identity of Ambassador Wilson’s wife, Vice President Dick Cheney, never testified under oath before the Special Prosecutor. Oh, he (and Bush together) agreed to testify, but only until assurances they would not have to do so “under oath”. Rove had to be subpoenaed FOUR times because new evidence kept coming to light that he “conveniently” left out of his prior testimonies. Libby was actually prosecuted/convicted for “obstruction of justice” for refusing to admit who gave him permission to leak the fact “Ambassador Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.” To hear these two tell it, President Bush had no tolerance for anyone wishing to obstruct justice. Yet, not only do we STILL not know (for a fact) who gave the order to leak Ms. Plame’s identity, but Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence. Absolute models of integrity that Bush Administration was.

Ingram ends by noting that she can’t remember one time anyone… not just the White House, but “people” in general… accused the Plame Investigation of “overreach”. REALLY? The White House itself never accused Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of “overreach” primarily because Fitzgerald didn’t “overreach”. In fact, quite the opposite. To the consternation of most Democrats, Fitzgerald “limited the scope of his investigation” from the get-go:

Fitzgerald: “The Special Counsel is limited by the specific scope of the investigation he was directed to conduct. Accordingly, the Special Counsel cannot make any decisions that extend beyond his express jurisdiction. The Court further concluded that the Special Counsel had no authority to disregard Department of Justice policies promulgated by the Attorney General [Gonzales].”

The Bush White House might not have accused the Special Prosecutor of “overreach” itself, but accusations that Fitzgerald was going “beyond his assignment” was the mating call of the injured RW Loon for nine months. Another reason the Bush White House didn’t cry “prosecutorial misconduct” is because there was no question a crime had been committed… unlike these made-up scandals under Obama. What is the “crime” of Benghazi? “Failing to provide additional security”? I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find that law on the books. The “IRS scandal”? NOT ONE SINGLE RIGHT-WING APPLICANT WAS DENIED their application (which is a scandal unto itself). If the IRS was abusing it’s authority, it did a really lousy job of it (and as TV’s Stephen Colbert pointed out, you don’t need to “wait for approval” to declare yourself a 501(c)4 and start accepting anonymous tax-free contributions.) And the AP/Leak investigation? As the HuffPo reported a few weeks ago:

Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has ruled that information recorded by third parties like cellphone carriers is not protected by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable searches. So law enforcement need not obtain a warrant from a judge to gain access to records of who we call and when.

The AP is (rightly) concerned that if the government can see the phone records of everyone that called a particular reporter, and potential informants know that, they’ll stop talking. The problem here is that The AP is accepting NONE of the responsibility for publicly revealing sensitive national security information (regarding what we knew of North Korea’s missile program.) Someone in the White House revealed Top Secret information to the Press. And rather than ask, “Should you be telling us this?” and/or “Is the public’s right-to-know on this matter more important than National Security?”, they just printed it anyway without regard for the consequences. Maybe if The AP had shown just a little discretion, there would be no reason for “legitimate” sources to be concerned for their privacy. If there was a “crime” here, it was committed by whomever leaked that information to The Press. And the White House needs to know so it can prosecute that person. Compare that to the leaking of the identity of Valery Plame, where the goal of the White House was to PROTECT the leaker, not seek them out for prosecution.

Last week also brought the announced retirement of Michele Bachmann: Self-proclaimed leader of the Teanuts and Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief. I don’t think there’s an “Oh-BHA-MA” conspiracy she didn’t buy into whole-hog. And like all Obama-hating Conspiracy Theorists, she never bothered to verify anything she was (supposedly) told (see: seven-foot doctor” or “mother who told her HPV vaccine caused mental retardation in children”) before repeating it on national TV claiming it was “the God’s honest truth”. If it confirms your own worst fears, why would you want to debunk it?

That just leaves us with Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Darryl Issa, Jim Inhoffe… ah, the Hell with it. The whole damn GOP. As Bob Dole so accurately pointed out last week, neither he, nor Reagan nor “certainly not Nixon” could get elected by today’s FAR FAR Right GOP. And that’s why the Public isn’t running for the pitchforks & torches over any of these made-up “worse than Watergate” imaginary “scandals”: they are well acquainted with the Messengers.

UPDATE 6/4/13: DailyKOS charts how President Obama’s approval rating has barely budged over the past three months because the primary concern of voters isn’t the IRS or Benghazi, “it’s the economy, Stupid”, and that seems to be improving.

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June 3, 2013 · Admin Mugsy · 4 Comments - Add
Posted in: fake scandals, Jobs, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Taxes, Unconstitutional

  • Estella U. Barry June 14, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Pity McClellan. He has a tough task–to depict the president as caring about the leak even though he is doing nothing about it. The White House could well end up being ensnared in this scandal. The early signs are that there was indeed a plot to get Wilson (and destroy the career of his wife). The news reports indicate that some administration officials–perhaps only one or two–are upset about this and are willing to talk to reporters. If they’re willing to talk to reporters, they might be willing to speak to prosecutors. The CIA must be committed to pushing the issue, otherwise it would not have requested an inquiry that places the White House in the crosshairs. Before this, the CIA and the White House had engaged in tense scuffling concerning the uranium-from-Niger controversy. But Tenet’s request for an investigation was the bureaucratic equivalent of going nuclear. Now the Justice Department is in the spotlight. Will it go ahead with an investigation that threatens the White House? And will its decisions in this case be regarded as credible and not influenced by politics? Schumer says that he is rounding up more Democrats to join his call for a special counsel. In the meantime, McClellan will have to keep on dancing.

  • Kris E. Stuart June 24, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    The answer to that mystery – why was Rove involved – may be more crucial to unraveling who was behind the illegal leaking of Plame’s name and the subsequent cover-up than even the identity of which Bush officials passed the information to right-wing pundit Robert Novak for his infamous column on July 14, 2003.

  • Maricela Baird June 27, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    The press corps—and bloggers—will likely compile a yards-long list of occasions when the president has denounced leaking, but it’s worth asking the philosophical question: Can the president even be a leaker? For a leak to be real, it has to be unsanctioned. Once a piece of secret information gets unwrapped (by the president no less), it’s not a leak, it’s part of a communications strategy. It’s national policy. So, maybe he’s not a leaker.

  • Gold Price June 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    The court documents do not say that the order to Mr Libby to share classified information with a reporter specifically referred to the identity of CIA agent Ms Plame-Wilson. However, her husband, US diplomat Joseph Wilson, was at that moment a leading critic of the Iraq war. In an article in the New York Times, Joe Wilson had contradicted the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons programme. Retaliation There’s speculation that the revealing of his wife’s identity as a CIA agent was meant as retaliation – to discredit a political opponent. Democrat Senator John Kerry, the former presidential candidate, says it makes no difference if Mr Bush did or did not specifically target Valerie Plame-Wilson with the authorisation of a leak: “It’s really part of the same effort to discredit Joe Wilson and to credit illegitimate arguments for going to war in Iraq and the fact is the bottom line remains that if the President of the United States is authorising, for political purposes, the release of classified information, you have a very serious issue.” No comment The White House will not officially comment on this new development in the CIA leak scandal. That wouldn’t be appropriate because of the ongoing investigation and unresolved court case involving Scooter Libby. But White House officials do whisper to the media that president Bush has certainly done nothing illegal. When a president decides to disclose classified information, for whatever reason, the information automatically ceases to be classified. So legally, President Bush may be fine. But politically he has added to his mounting credibility problems.

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