Compass: As scandals multiply, Obama's true colors show

By JEFF PANTAGESMay 25, 2013 

Last Sunday, columnist Shannyn Moore penned yet another rant against the evil Republicans (comment, May 18), calling them everything from stupid to -- gasp -- hypocrites. Is this the best the left has to offer as defense against the Obama administration's recent scandals?

I understand they are trying to distract, but don't the president and his ardent supporters understand that when they do everything in their power to demonize political opponents it is dangerous and destructive to political discourse and ultimately the country? Plus, it's hardly what one would have hoped to get from the president who founded his celebrity on a "no red states, no blue states, just one big United States" speech in 2004. Talk about hypocrisy!

President Obama has many times lectured us on the need for more civility in the public square. Yet, it is he who told his followers to take a gun to a knife fight, to get in your neighbor's face, and to punch back twice as hard at Republicans, whom he describes as "our enemies." Not Iran, not North Korea, not al-Qaida, but Republicans.

Perhaps that's why the IRS targeted groups like the tea party and others with scary names like "Patriot" for extra scrutiny and harassment. No doubt they felt emboldened by the Obama rhetoric. It's what the boss would want. It is reminiscent of Henry II and his infamous "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest" plea. We know how that worked out for Thomas Becket.

The IRS has apologized for targeting conservative groups, but implausibly argues that it was not political. Only a few are talking; one took the Fifth. Additionally, the top IRS official who oversaw this scrutiny has moved on to overseeing the implementation of Obamacare. She'll determine the fines on those who don't buy "proper" health insurance. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

Despite the president's admonition that "there's no there, there" the mainstream media finally seems to be catching up to Fox News on the Benghazi story. While the White House wants this to be "old news," it is important to acknowledge that they misled the American people for political reasons in an election year.

The facts are pretty clear. They implausibly offered up an anti-Muslim video as the reason for the attack on our embassy on 9/11 last year. They didn't want to call it terrorism, perhaps thinking that their "we got Bin Laden and have conquered al-Qaida" narrative would be sullied. Whatever the reason, it turns out that there may be even more there, there. Whistle-blowers are now coming forward. Stay tuned.

To marginalize Benghazi critics, Ms. Moore quotes obscure polling data, ridiculing Republicans for not knowing where Benghazi is. Apparently only 60 percent knew that it is in Libya. That's greater than the 49 percent of Democrats quoted in the poll, but it is largely irrelevant. It appears that the poll is designed to tease out silly answers to silly questions. Thus, partisans can cherry-pick the data and ridicule the other side with something or other.

The third of three scandals plaguing the administration is over surveillance activities, including surreptitiously collecting phone and email data from the press. Under the guise of seeking a leaker, the Justice Department trolled through AP records. Just this week, using a similar ruse, we learned they also targeted James Rosen, a Fox News reporter. In order to secretly collect private and business phone and email data, including from his parents, they named him an unindicted criminal co-conspirator and stated he was a flight risk. FYI, they already had the leaker's name.

It's pretty clear that the president has nothing but disdain for Fox. He and his administration have previously asserted it was "not a legitimate news organization." But these recent behaviors are frightening. Even liberal outlets like The New York Times are condemning the administration's behavior.

Are allusions to Watergate premature? Of course, but the press has finally woken from the deep slumber of adulation. Maybe the love affair is over and the president will have to answer some tough questions -- finally.


Jeff Pantages lives and works in Anchorage.

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