SAN DIEGO, June 1, 2013 — Hold on to your seats: Democratic strategists have once again figured out a way to interpret depressing Washington news. As always, the fault lies with those mean and nasty Republicans.
News from Washington has been anything but slow lately. Hungry readers and journalists have been treated to a virtual smorgasbord.
But if current events are riveting, the reason is a sad one: Horrific, despicable deeds by trusted employees of the United States government are coming into greater focus every day.
How does one process a multiplicity of overwhelming news stories, especially when the reports expose more twists, turns, and cover-ups than an entire television season of 24?
Actually, matters are not quite as complex as they appear. There is a common thread connecting each tainted garment: Every story in the unholy trinity of scandals, (Benghazi, IRS, and intrusion into AP/Fox) interacts on some level with the Obama administration.
Therein lies the way out for Democratic spinmeisters. Since Obama is President and Republicans are the majority party in the House, perhaps American citizens will buy into a familiar interpretation: The only motive to keep these stories alive is a political one.
In a vain attempt at damage control, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer threw himself into a series of interviews which eerily resembled Ambassador Susan Rice’s fiasco from September 2012.
“I think we’ve seen this playbook from Republicans before,” Pfeiffer said, “What they want to do when they are lacking a positive agenda is try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings and false allegations. We’re not going to let that happen.”
While Pfeiffer admitted that at least the IRS situation was a problem, he still talked as if Republicans were a bigger problem: “This was a breach of the public trust. And we have to work together to rebuild that trust. That’s going to require Republicans to do this in a legitimate, serious governmental way and not play politics with it,” (NBC Meet The Press, 5-19-13).
This is the best the left has to offer right now: Republicans, supposedly, are seeking to play politics by exploiting a tragedy. If only George Bush hadn’t been out of office these past four and a half years, he could take a lion’s share of the blame.
Actually…Hmm…Wasn’t former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman appointed under Bush? True, the stuff Shulman is accused of happened under Obama, but any chance to use the word “Bush” is always helpful.
Do Republicans hope to pave political inroads for 2014 as a result of current Washington scandals? Of course! Spoiler alert: Politicians generally have political motives. That’s why we call them politicians.
Be that as it may, a fair question begs to be asked: Are Democrats really in the best position to offer sanctimonious lectures about not exploiting a crisis?
The echo of former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel still bellows down memory lane:
“Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste…They are opportunities to do big things” (New York Times11-9-2008).
His lesson was not lost on Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif. – Chair of Senate Environment & Public Works Committee). Her response to last week’s Oklahoma tornado inspired a passionate speech from the Senate floor:
“This is climate change. We were warned about extreme weather. Not just hot weather. But extreme weather…Yeah, it’s gonna get hot. But you’re also going to see snow in the summer in some places. You’re gonna have terrible storms. You’re going to have tornados and all the rest. We need to protect our people. That’s our number one obligation and we have to deal with this threat that is upon us and that is gonna get worse and worse though the years” (Senate floor, 5-21-13).
Senator Boxer is not one to pontificate without offering a solution. She went on to mention her own bill (cosponsored with Sen. Bernie Sanders) designed to place a tax on carbon. “Carbon could cost us the planet,” Boxer explained. “The least we could do is put a little charge on it so people move to clean energy.”
Of course tornadoes have been a feature of nature for as long as we can remember. It doesn’t matter. Even weather is not immune to politics.
Not that Boxer invented this current maneuver of changing the title. It’s been floated many times like a helium balloon on a globally warm day. “Global warming” used to be the predominant phrase when Democrats wanted to find creative new ways to demand taxes or special fees from private sector industry.
We still hear about global warming when summers are hot (as summers usually are.) But when seasons change, record cold spells are harder to categorize as evidence of a warming planet. Even a magician would have trouble pulling that one off, especially when scientists on both sides debate the issue.
Fortunately for the Democratic Party, senators work magic better than magicians. Presto! Global warming becomes “climate change.” Who can argue against such genius? There is one undeniable fact about climate. It’s always changing.
And so, while Republicans talk about threats to our country, Democrats have an entire planet to protect.
On balance, Democrats want us to see that their pet crisis is the better one. Watch for their talking points to grow. They will tell us that Republicans have a lot of raw, inappropriate nerve. They will attempt to downplay concern from conservatives.
“Just look at the trivial stuff that alarms the GOP!” they will say, “All right, Americans in Libya were refused help from our State Department before they were murdered. Sure that’s sad, but heck, it’s not as if Obama and the State department were totally impotent. After all, they promptly diverted tons of energy into a creative explanation about video inspired violence as opposed to an Al-Qaeda attack.”
“Now, be careful! We must not view this tactic as anything political. Only Republicans are political. The fact that our country was in the midst of an election year where Obama bragged about Al-Qaeda being on the demise is purely coincidental.”
“As for the IRS, OK, so they hassled some Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status. Aren’t all Tea Party people racist anyway?”
“What? They also told a Pro-Life non-profit group that they were not allowed to publically protest Planned Parenthood? What’s wrong with that? It’s not like they were telling Pro-Choice groups that they can’t protest Pro-Life organizations! That would have been truly fascist!”
“As for that scandal with the press, well, maybe it was a teensy bit wrong to go after the AP but anything Eric Holder does to Fox News is only being done to Fox News, right? Fox News is partisan. The people at Fox aren’t as fair to Obama as objective networks like MSNBC.”
“Republicans must stop all this phony concern for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of press. Does our First Amendment give us the freedom to yell “fire” in a crowded room? Republicans could learn from their Democratic cousins. The only real threat to America, and to the entire world for that matter, is climate change!”
These are the kinds of arguments to expect. They have already begun to surface in one form or another. They will get worse. They will grow and stretch until all who oppose Obama are drawn with horns and a tail.
Conservatives should respond with a few simple talking points of their own:
“Yes it is wrong to yell “fire” in a crowded room, unless the room really is on fire.”
“As for climate change, we need a change of climate all right. The world is awfully big. So is America. For now, let’s just settle for a change of climate at the White House.”
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Bob sometimes selects reader’s comments and responds to them on his radio show. Readers are free to call in and challenge Bob’s response over the air. Details of his program can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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