Circling the Prez-protection wagons

Posted: May 17, 2013

RECENTLY, in response to the hat trick of scandals that the White House has scored over the past few days, some liberal commentators have tried to distance President Obama from at least two of them.

It's not surprising that the Fourth Estate is up in arms that a Holder-led Department of Justice snooped into the private lives of their Associated Press colleagues, so you can't expect them to carry Barry's water on that one.

But the other two scandals that have either intensified (Benghazi) or popped up out of the blue (IRS) are so galling to the usual administration apologists that they've sprung into action to protect the president.

Let's take Libya. While most of the initial attention was focused on why Susan Rice provided misleading information about the source of the attack on Sept. 11 last year, recent disclosures in the form of testimony and emails has proven that there was much more of a cover-up than anyone who supports this administration wants to admit.

According to the Washington Post, initial CIA-drafted talking points clearly stated that Islamist extremists associated with al Qaeda were involved in the attack that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

After that draft was batted around between the CIA and the State Department, mention of al Qaeda was eliminated from the final report, along with the fact that the State Department had been warned in the past about the probability of an attack on Benghazi.

According to the Post, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was concerned that if those prior warnings were referenced in the final draft, they could "be abused by the members of Congress to beat the State Department."

Let's do the math. Sept. 11, 2012, was exactly 55 days before Nov. 5, 2012. It is clear that even if the White House was not involved in drafting those final talking points (and it seems that it wasn't), someone in the administration was worried about the impact that the truth might have on Obama's re-election. Since the president had justifiably highlighted the death of Osama Bin Laden in his campaign, his claim that al Qaeda had been crippled would have been undermined by evidence that, in fact, it was alive and well and had just killed an ambassador.

But Obama's defenders will have none of this. They seem to agree with Hillary Clinton who, before Congress, brazenly asked, "What difference does it make?"

Several commentators have actually blamed the GOP-led House for denying funds to beef up security in Benghazi, as if this were the reason that Susan Rice was forced to lie on the morning talk shows. While the House may share some responsibility for the shaky security in Libya, it's ridiculous to point that out as the "real" scandal in Benghazi.

It is also wrong, as some have done, to justify the lack of a military response by saying that civilian critics of the Pentagon are engaging in political grandstanding. A number of both active and retired military have voiced a belief that military assistance could have been rendered and have pointed to our installation in southern Italy which is geographically close to Libya.

But of course, this doesn't fit the narrative that the GOP has simply created this scandal, and has done so despicably over the bodies of four dead Americans.

Then we have the IRS. President Obama points to the fact that the acting commissioner has stepped down, which is very nice of him to do one month before he had to anyway. Not exactly the Saturday Night Massacre.

If this is the only head that will roll after conservative citizens have been told that their government considers them fifth columnists, we need to borrow a guillotine from the French.

But to some people, the "real" IRS scandal isn't that this powerful and intimidating agency is improperly singling out people who disagree with the president. That type of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination isn't a problem for them.

No, the "real" atrocity is that the tea party passes itself off as a "nonprofit organization" when it is anything but. According to an op-ed in the New York Times (which has been carrying so much water for the administration it should invest in Midol for the entire editorial board), "[The tea party] and others are groups that may be illegally spending a majority of their resources on political activity while manipulating the tax code to hide their owners and evade taxes."

Of course, this doesn't explain why the IRS went after only conservative groups. Don't liberals also "manipulate the tax code?" Or is it only "manipulation" when you don't like the political beliefs of the people seeking nonprofit status?

President Obama has had a very long week.

Good thing Gennifer Flowers is keeping herself occupied.


Christine Flowers is a lawyer. Email cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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