In recent weeks, high-level political scandals have dominated the local and national news. The details of one scandal or another cover the front pages of newspapers everywhere. Cable news networks, radio and television talk shows fill their respective airways with each new development.
Usually, there is only one good juicy scandal at a time in our nation’s capitol. The one is usually sufficient to arrest our attention and keep the media abuzz for weeks. Remember some of the big ones? There was Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Gary Condit and John Edwards affairs, and, last but not least, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
This time around there are three scandals that have emerged in rapid sequence to form what should be a devastating blow to the President’s popularity and effectiveness. Amazingly, he has remained mostly unaffected. He continues to hold on to his high approval rating. I’m beginning to think that the ratings services are only polling Obama’s family and staffers.
It should be noted that Mr. Obama himself has remained outside the scope of inquiry of any of these scandals so far. The center of attention has centered only on his subordinates or appointees.
None of these scandals will go away quickly or quietly. The question that will ultimately be answered is will anything come of these? Could the trail lead to the President’s desk? It has already led to Holder’s. Will anyone be charged with crimes? And, will these scandals forever damage the trust of the American people?
If Congress fails to get to the bottom of these scandals American’s faith in their government will be severely harmed. Congress’s reputation before these scandals was at one of its lowest points in history. Failure to act quickly and fairly now will further decay their image. Seriously, how low can it go?
We must acknowledge, regardless of our own political persuasion, that scandals are not confined to Republicans or Democrats. Both parties have had their share of terrible breaches of ethics and conduct. Many have been criminal acts.
Just as a point of parenthetical interest, there was a study done by the left leaning Daily Beast on political scandals over the last twenty years. Sixty different scandals were analyzed. These all involved elected officials or major candidates running for a mayoral or higher office. The March 29, 2010 edition concluded:
• Republicans have more scandals (35 to 28), but Democrats have bigger ones, based on our methodology (13 out of the top 20).
• Democrats tend to have more problems with harassment, staffers, and underage girls; Republicans tend to have more problems with prostitutes, hypocrisy, and underage boys.
Let’s take a brief look at the three scandals now on the political front burner. All three of these threaten the integrity, power, and future, not only of the Obama administration, but also of Democrats across the board.
First, there is the IRS scandal. The evidence, overwhelming at this point, is that the feared tax collection agency targeted conservative and Christian organizations for extra scrutiny while passing over liberal ones. It is clear these organizations were singled out simply due to their political or religious leanings. They even picked on the Billy Graham Ministry.
Some of the questions asked of these organizations trying to gain tax-exempt status were not unlike ones that would be asked by the KGB (Is there really a difference?) An Iowa pro-life group, for example, was asked what they prayed about? Really? I hope they were going to get God to verify the prayers on the other end of the line.
There is one national Tea Party group that was asked to supply information that was also inappropriate and overreaching. The IRS demanded that they supply a copy of their list of donors. They also requested screenshots of their Facebook pages and copies of written comments made by members of their blogs. This particular Tea Party group will soon file legal action against the IRS, as will many others.
Next, there is the much older Benghazi scandal. Many unanswered questions still swirl around this past year’s 9/11 event. At that time, four people died including our Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Why did possible military units that could have helped stand down? How was it possible that no effort was exerted or military action taken to help our people at our Embassy? This siege by terrorists lasted for seven long hours? Are we to believe that we had no military assets in the area capable of helping? Could not something have been done during that seven hours?
This tragic and disgraceful event involved officials of the highest national ranks including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And, where was the President that night? We still don’t know. We do know he went to Las Vegas the next day to raise money. It must have been a higher priority than dealing with four dead Americans.
Finally, and possibly the most threatening to the Obama administration is the AP scandal. This story continues to develop further as recent facts have emerged that indicate Fox News and possibly others were included in DOJ investigations. The Obama administration has bitten the hand that feeds it. This could prove to be a fatal mistake.
The Nationalinterest.org website claims the Obama administration is ruthless and has gone rogue. They report:
The Obama administration is mired in a fresh scandal of its own making. The revelation that the Justice Department has been snooping into the phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors indicates that the administration’s ruthlessness when it comes to trying to protect its reputation and sources knows no bounds. Attorney General Eric Holder, always a poor choice for a cabinet post, should resign. Coupled with the revelation that the IRS has been selectively targeting Tea Party groups and the botched handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack, the administration confronts a second term that appears to be ending even before it has even really begun.
What can we learn from these scandals and the ones that came before them? At this point in our history, we probably won’t learn much. Our culture is in moral decline and character and evil is often overlooked. Ideology trumps performance and ethics in most cases.
Hopefully, the American people will regain the conviction that electing leaders with character is paramount. It’s just common sense. If someone is immoral in their private life they will be immoral in their public life. Character ultimately determines actions.
In 1987, the American people still understood the importance of character. Senator Gary Hart, who served Colorado, ran for President of the United States. He was considered a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. He was careless and got caught in an affair with Donna Rice, a 29-year old model over thirty years his junior.
Soon after Hart had declared his candidacy, rumors ran rampant that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair. He adamantly denied the allegations and responded to a New York Times inquiry this way:
“Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.”
Well, the Miami Herald did tail him and he was busted. He lost the nomination to Michael Dukakis. Character still mattered in 1987.
This must have been the last time America really cared about character. Then came Clinton. Character counts!
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.– Abraham Lincoln