Obama shooting back at criticisms
THE WHITE HOUSE – Wednesday May 15, 2013, the White House acknowledged the rising political dangers of the mushrooming Obama’s administration scandals. In a tumultuous few hours, the administration moved forcefully to counter criticism of its handling of the deadly attacks of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, the seizure of the Associated Press reporters’ phone records in a Justice Department leak investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative patriots and Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. In his most aggressive response, Obama announced that the acting IRS commissioner had handed down his resignation.
Days of deflecting blame by the president had sparked criticism on his willingness to accept any kind of responsibility for his own failures, and his usual way of avoiding any kind of blame by always pointing the fingers in somebody else’s direction. Now facing increasing criticism, Obama, known for his deliberative style and an aversion to overreacting that often push him into inaction, decided yesterday that it was time to fight back.
Appearing at the White House, he said the administration had forced the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and he strongly condemned the agency’s apparent targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny. He promised to cooperate with Congress in an investigation. Obama’s appearance came shortly after the White House released a series of emails detailing discussions about the now famous “talking points” memos that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice used when discussing the September 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Hoping to defuse criticism about the secret seizure of phone records from Associated Press journalists, the administration sought to revive a 2009 media shield bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The bill would give federal protection to reporters who decline to reveal their confidential sources, but would also allow national security needs to outweigh those journalists’ rights.
Nobody including Obama himself shall expect this White House response to put an end to the controversies, but it shows the president willingness to openly face its potential political fallout. With congressional elections approaching in 2014, there is no other open option for Obama; any longstanding political damage can show on the Democrats’ efforts to maintain control of the Senate and retake the majority in the House. Immediate political damage control counter measures may well be appropriate but without further evidence of wrongdoing that traces directly to the White House, the three scandals may not resonate widely with voters over the long-term.
Personally, I would not expect too much from all of this window dressing nonsense.
Michel Ouellette JMD Public Affairs & Communications Columnist, Novelist, and Futurist