“What difference, at this point, does it make?”
— Hillary Rodham Clinton, in House testimony on Benghazi
“Well, I got a couple of thousand goddamn questions, you know. I want to speak to someone in charge.”
— Roy Neary, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Spoiler alert: The IRS scandal, the AP phone records scandal — they go nowhere. In September, we’ll all be looking back thinking, “Huh, that was a big waste of time.” It will be — in fact, it already is.
Just when Benghazi has reached critical mass, the Obama administration, which has had only one scandal (Fast and Furious early in term 1, and that fizzled fast and furiously), suddenly has two more scandals? Coincidence, yes?
No. Not at all. They were dropped, on purpose, at a most convenient time, and they’re already played out. Exactly according to plan.
The phone “scandal,” in which the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed call logs from The Associated Press, ended before it started. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., called to the carpet by House investigators, testified last week that he had recused himself entirely from the matter. He didn’t know a thing about the case, he said with a smirk. Not a thing. Done.
So, months from now, maybe they lop off the head of the man who orchestrated the records grab, Deputy Attorney General James Cole. But even that isn’t assured. Justice is now making a case for why the clearly unconstitutional records grab was not unconstitutional; it’ll be months before there’s any closure. Will anyone care in August?
And the IRS “scandal,” in which the federal tax-collecting agency apparently targeted tea party groups, also will fizzle. Already, the president — incensed over the mess, spitting mad! — has canned the acting commissioner, Steven Miller. Well, not really, his term ended June 8 anyway. At least the president demanded the head of the commissioner of the agency’s tax-exempt and government entities division. Well, not really. Joseph Grant decided to “retire” June 3. Bring on the government pension and free health care.
Plus, the administration already has pinned the whole debacle on a few “rogue” IRS employees in the Cincinnati branch. You think anyone will find the president’s fingerprints on orders demanding that the agency crack down on political opponents? Please. This is the Chicago mafia: They cover their tracks and they long ago filed off their fingerprints.
What’s more, Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division in charge of evaluating charitable and other nonprofit organizations, rolled out the scandal herself at a conference of lawyers. The slumbering press corps didn’t unearth the “scandal,” Mrs. Lerner merely called a friend and planted the question concerning an upcoming inspector general’s report. That’s how the story broke.
But who cares: The president’s taking action! Let’s move on, folks, nothing to see here.
The whole ham-handed game play is comical. Just as shocking testimony emerged on the Benghazi scandal, the administration rolls out two scandals, with the targets just coincidentally — the media and right-wing conservatives. Absurd. But fairly brilliant. The self-absorbed media predictably swooned over its plight — this is the biggest scandal ever. And the right-wingers grew indignant, finally able to say “We told you so.” Well played, Obama administration.