But of Course: For Bloomberg's Al Hunt, 'Scandal' Is a 'Misnomer' for Benghazi, IRS Targeting and DOJ's Snooping on AP

May 20th, 2013 10:52 PM

Old dog, same old tricks.

At Bloomberg Views, Al Hunt, formerly "the executive editor of Bloomberg News, directing coverage of the Washington bureau," referred to the controversies swirling around the White House as "faux scandals" and insisted that ... wait for it ... the Obama administration "is the most scandal-free administration in recent memory." No wonder Bloomberg News developed into such a hopelessly biased outfit while he was there. As much as I could stand to excerpt from Hunt's harangue follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

How Obama Can Rescue His Presidency From Faux Scandals

Here’s the White House view of the current trilogy of so-called scandals: Republicans are trying to destroy President Barack Obama’s second term by magnifying bureaucratic miscues and distorting policy realities. This isn’t without some merit.

On none of these issues -- the deadly debacle at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya, the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, or the Justice Department’s secret and sweeping seizure of Associated Press phone records in an anti-leaks case -- is there any suggestion of wrongdoing by Obama. [1]

... Among the bolder actions (experienced Democrats)... want him to consider:

-- Appoint a special counsel in the IRS transgressions. Tap a knowledgeable outsider of the agency (say, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill) to quickly assemble a small staff to supplement career Justice Department investigators, with a target of a full report by Oct. 20. These findings, unlike an inquiry under Attorney General Eric Holder, would have credibility.

-- Accept Holder’s resignation. A favorite target of Republicans, the attorney general now has few fans among prominent Democrats. Given his record, his departure would be important substantively as well as symbolically.

-- Abandon widely discussed consideration of making United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice the head of the National Security Council later this year.

... It’s a canard to say Benghazi is a classic case of the cover-up being worse than the crime. There was no crime. [2]

... There is no defense for America’s tax agency targeting particular groups because of their perceived ideology.

... This is the most scandal-free administration in recent memory. [3] The word scandal is a misnomer for each of these three distinctly different matters.

Yet Washington works as much on perception as reality. Together, these controversies -- and especially the IRS uproar - - threaten to dominate all summer, which would politically imperil any second-term agenda. Last week, the president began to act more decisively.


[1] -- As of this morning, every Obama administration scandal was only one step on the organization chart away from the Oval Office. Effective this afternoon, one of them is less than one step away, with the revelation that the head of the Office of the White House Counsel knew about the substance of the upcoming Inspector General's report about the IRS abusively targeting Tea Party and conservative groups and (supposedly) never told the President about it.

[2] -- Nice straw man, Al. Almost no one is claiming that Benghazi involved "crime" (though one shouldn't totally rule it out). It instead involved a disgraceful dereliction of duty and and an orchestrated campaign of deception of the American people in the name of winning a presidential election, and perhaps the next one too.

[3] -- The most relevant definition of "scandal" is "a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc." Given that definition:

  • The administration's handling of Benghazi is scandalous because inadquate effort was made to protect people who should have had first-class protection, because people who could have been saved weren't, and most of all because it completely fabricated the cause of the attack for days.
  • The IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, individuals, and businesses is scandalous because those actions are discreditable in what is supposed to be, or perhaps once was, a free and open society.
  • The AP phone-snooping is scandalous because its scale, by most observers' accounts, is far beyond what was necessary -- if it was even necessary -- to identify whoever might have leaked the existence of a terrorist plot on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.
  • Fast and Furious is scandalous because hundreds of Mexicans and at least one Border Patrol agent died for no discernible reason based in competent law enforcement.
  • The HHS secretary's shakedown of insurance companies to "ask" (i.e., coerce) them to put money into a PR effort to get Americans to sign up for ObamaCare is scandalous because it discreditably abuses government power and the implied threats of regulatory harassment and intimidation to get them to do what they otherwise wouldn't dream of doing.
  • Finally (but not really; there are other scandals I could list), "lending" money to entities like Solyndra which had virtually chance of being able to repay is scandalous because it's a disgraceful waste of taxpayers' money.

On one level, I can't believe I even have to explain this to liberal lunkheads like Al Hunt. But I suspect that Hunt really knows that all the items noted above and more are indeed scandals, but it so hopelessly partisan that he'll never admit it.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.