Let’s see if I have this right: President Obama is constantly in the cross-hairs of hyper-partisan, cheap-shot Republicans who turn everything they can get their hands on into a “scandal” – which are really “phony scandals” as far as President Obama and his acolytes are concerned.
But rest assured the president was mad as hell about all of those scandals, right up until the moment he realized they were only “phony scandals” concocted by the GOP.
On May 13, 2013, the president was outraged to learn that the IRS may have targeted conservatives. Outraged! “I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it, and we’ll make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”
Two days later, he said, “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.”
Then it became a “phony scandal” and, oops, he wasn’t all that angry anymore and so he lost all interest in finding out exactly what happened.
Then on October 21, 2013, when the president learned about the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, he was downright furious. “Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working,” he said. Good to know, Mr. President.
Back in 2011, on October 18, when news about Fast and Furious reached the Oval Office, the president said, “It’s very upsetting to me that somebody showed such bad judgment, that they would allow something like that to happen.” The “something” he was talking about was the discovery that guns supplied by the U.S. government wound up in the hands of Mexican drug thugs and one of those guns was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
I’m sure he was also furious that our ambassador and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi. I know this because the president vowed to get those responsible for the deaths.
Despite his anger, he hasn’t brought anyone to justice. Maybe that’s because Benghazi became one of those “phony scandals,” at least according to the president’s Baghdad Bob, Jay Carney.
Now Mr. Obama is mad yet again — this time about the scandal at the Veterans Administration, which he claims to have learned about from a story on CNN. Actually, he’s not just mad. He is, according to his chief of staff, “madder than hell.”
“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable,” he said. “If there is misconduct, it will be punished.”
Whatever you say, Mr. President.
But this time, things may be different. He can’t call this one a “phony scandal” – not when wounded warriors are involved. And he can’t count on support from his fellow Democrats or his pals in the media.
Reporters covered the IRS mess the way the president wanted it covered. Barely. And they downplayed Benghazi and Fast and Furious, too. As for his fellow Democrats, they have repeatedly said Republicans were on a witch-hunting spree, just trying to make the president look bad.
But now we’re talking about Americans who put their lives on the line for their country – vets who can’t get in to see a doctor at more than a few VA hospitals around the country; and some 40 vets actually died in Phoenix alone while waiting for an appointment.
Most Democrats won’t take a bullet for the president on this one. Supporting a politician over wounded and otherwise ill veterans is not a winning strategy. (But Nancy Pelosi has already been out there blaming President Bush for getting us into two wars, which produced lots of wounded vets and overloaded the system.)
And reporters know that they can’t put lipstick on this pig – not without losing what (very) little trust the American people still have for them.
Here’s one example of how tough some reporters have been in covering the VA scandal, albeit it’s an example involving Jake Tapper of CNN, a journalist who is no pushover. He recently grilled White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the president’s role in the VA scandal.
“How many stories like this, how many letters like this, how many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, maybe this guy [VA chief Eric Shinseki] isn’t the best steward of these veterans?” Tapper asked.
“The question, Jake, is, are we doing everything we can every day to get the veterans the care and the opportunities that they deserve?” McDonough answered.
“But you are not,” Tapper shot back. “This letter [from House Veteran Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida alerting the president of a problem] was sent a year ago. And you guys ignored it.”
With no cover from the press, or even from most Democrats, Mr. Obama may really be in trouble this time. If things get bad enough, he’ll throw Shinseki over the side. And that may be enough for low-information voters too dense to understand what’s really going on. Stay tuned.
But whether he gets away with this one like he’s (so far) gotten away with all the other scandals, there is an underlying truth about this president that is inescapable. Peter Wehner put it elegantly the other day in Commentary magazine: “We’ve learned the hard way that Mr. Obama’s skill sets are far more oriented toward community organizing than they are to governing. On every front, he is overmatched by events. It’s painful to watch a man who is so obviously in over his head. And more and more Americans are suffering because of it.”