- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“These are the tactics of the Third World.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, commenting on the combined effects of the Benghazi matter, the Justice Department seizure of Associated Press phone records and the IRS probe of conservative groups, before the Senate.

HILLARY + BENGHAZI = NO 2016

The equation of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Benghazi is an uneasy one. Unanswered questions about the terrorist attack eight months ago could prevent the former secretary of state from entering the 2016 presidential race — a palpable fear among Democrats who treasure Mrs. Clinton’s favorable poll numbers and the prospect that former President Bill Clinton could actually end up as “first gentleman.” But wait. If Benghazi compromises Mrs. Clinton’s chances of a White House run, is it the fault of Republicans — or President Obama?

Depends on who’s talking.

“Republicans are trying to bully Hillary Clinton out of running for president by attacking her on Benghazi,” points out Jonathan Easley, who cites former White House strategist David Axelrod’s latest theory. “I really view the Benghazi flare-up right now as throwing a high hard one at Hillary Clinton to try and dissuade her from running for president,” Mr. Axelrod told MSNBC on Wednesday.

It’s not just the Grand Old Party that puts Mrs. Clinton at risk, however.

“After a trifecta of scandals buffeting President Obama Clinton’s close connections with Obama could become politically problematic,” observes National Review analyst Josh Kraushaar.

“Being so closely tied to Obama, she could reap some blowback if any of these scandals metastasize. If they do, Democratic voters may be looking for a fresher face, someone who has spent less time in Washington,” says Mr. Kraushaar, though he notes Mrs. Clinton already “knows something about being embarrassed by a president.”

HILLARY‘S PROWESS

And what about all that legendary Hillary Rodham Clinton favorability? Does she really have the edge? It appears the Republicans could have something to fret about.

According to the likely 2016 presidential matchups in a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton leads among Democrats with 63 percent of the votes, compared to 13 percent for Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 4 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 3 percent each for Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In a matchup against Sen. Rand Paul, Mrs. Clinton clinched 51 percent of the vote among all voters, compared to 41 percent for the Kentucky Republican. She wins 47 percent to 44 percent, respectively, when facing off against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Against Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mrs. Clinton wins, 47 percent to 41 percent over the Florida lawmaker.

AN UNLIKELY CRITIC

“There’s a dangerous narrative emerging for President Obama in the wake of these controversies involving Benghazi, the IRS and The Associated Press. It says he’s passive and uninterested in governing. In the face of the cascade of negative stories the president seemed to lack a response. He’s allowed the impression to emerge out there that, as I said last night, he’s a ship with the engine turned off.”

— MSNBC host Chris Matthews, commenting Wednesday.

THINGS TO COME

His earnest mea culpas are behind him. All’s well now, apparently. Anthony D. Weiner is running for mayor of New York City, according to the one news organization that never tires of all things Weiner. That’s the New York Post, which accompanied their account with a Twitter image that got the former congressman in trouble two years ago. He is displaying his bare torso.

“Surely you chest,” the paper quipped.

Mr. Weiner, though, is still Twitter-centric.

“Make city meetings must-see TV. Mayor’s question time,” he recently Tweeted, citing Idea 46 in a series of proposals he has for the bright lights and big city.

ANOTHER FALSE IMPRESSION

“Americans misjudge U.S. abortion views,” notes a new Gallup poll.

“When asked how they think most Americans feel about the abortion issue, 51 percent of U.S. adults say the public is mostly ‘pro-choice,’ while 35 percent say ‘pro-life.’ This general perception that the pro-choice viewpoint prevails contrasts with the nearly even division of Americans’ actual views. The same poll finds that 48 percent of Americans call themselves pro-life and 45 percent pro-choice,” analyst Lydia Saad says.

Wait. What? Does the liberal media have anything to do with this false impression that the nation is pro-choice? The Gallup findings do not speculate. But remember, a similar situation emerged in a recent Pew Research Center survey revealing that the majority of Americans are currently under the impression that gun crime is higher now than it was 20 years ago. Federal data indicates gun crime fell by half in that time period, from seven gun homicides per 100,000 people, to 3.6 homicides.

“In the months since the mass shooting at Newtown, Conn., the public is paying close attention to the topic of firearms,” says the Pew study, noting that no story received more recent public attention “than the debate over gun control.”

POLL DU JOUR

57 percent of likely U.S. voters say the IRS investigation of conservative and tea party groups was politically motivated; 86 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

57 percent overall say that employees involved in the investigations should be “jailed or fired”; 82 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats agree.

55 percent overall say it is at least somewhat likely President Obama knew the groups “were targeted by the IRS“; 68 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent say the IRS employees should be formally reprimanded for the probe; 7 percent say no disciplinary action should be taken.

16 percent say the investigation of the groups was a “coincidence.”

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted May 13 and 14.

Woebegone observations, snarls, critiques to jharper@washingtontimes.com.