Here's my latest Sunday column in our local paper:
I assume we can all agree on this much: had there been attacks on US embassies during the Bush administration, the Democrats would have held hearings till the cowed came home. And if, say, right before George Bush’s reelection, the IRS came after a church in which a sermon was given criticizing the Iraq war, there’d have been calls for the IRS director to resign (same guy under whom the current brouhaha began, by the way, a Bush appointee after whose resignation Rs have blocked further nominees). What’s that? There were lots of attacks under Bush? And Fox “news” was silent? Surely you’re mistaken.
And now you’re saying there was a harsh IRS investigation of All Saints Church in Pasadena after an antiwar sermon in 2004? And one of Obama’s church, too? How did I miss that? I watch Fox “news” like a hawk watches Fox “news."
I have a clean record of nobody misunderstanding or mischaracterizing what I say, and don’t want to start now. So let me be clear: I’m not excusing any of this stuff. Benghazi (interesting fact: 39% of people who say it’s “the biggest political scandal in American history” don’t know where it is, including 6% who say it’s in Cuba) is, at minimum, a tragedy; and initial accounts, for whatever reason, were inaccurate. Without doubt, bad decisions were made, as they may have been prior to the attacks during Bush’s reign, in India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Serbia, Greece, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, which went essentially uninvestigated. The cover-up, more like a mix-up, lasted about three days. That everyone within shouting distance of Fox “news” perseverates on the falsehood that the military had the capability to ride in there like Clayton Moore and stop the assault, after all manner of military leaders have debunked it, well, that’s our politics, nowadays. I haven’t seen any evidence of coordinated and continual dastardly behavior there; if Darrell Issa is right for once, maybe I will. But at this point, it looks like what Rs are really up to is preemptively discrediting Hillary Clinton before she runs for president. If you doubt that, note Karl Rove’s (tax-exempt) group’s ad that popped up like a mushroom against her.
Which brings us to the IRS. I’m appalled (not being sarcastic) that there was asymmetrical attention paid to right-wing groups as they applied for tax-exempt status. I condemn it. On the other hand, I think it’s pretty obvious that tax exemptions for so-called social action groups are being abused. The aforementioned Rovian repugnance, which spent over seventy million on political ads, is a prime example. I’d argue no political action group deserves tax-exempt status; but if some do, then scrutiny by the IRS doesn’t seem all that outrageous, assuming it’s done fairly. Like, you know, that church near the Magic Kingdom.
Of all the privy-contents being emptied toward the ventilatory device, the issue that bothers me most deeply is the revelation of secret surveillance of emails and other records of certain AP reporters. Evidently, the records were subpoenaed; so it seems that the courts were involved, as opposed to when Bush first started snooping. Yay, Patriot Act! Irony: it was Rs who demanded Eric Holder investigate leaks. He did. Now they’re calling for his resignation. Still, unfettered freedom of the press is, in my opinion, a heck of a lot more important to the future of our democracy than, say, the ability to buy an AR 15 unaccountably at a gun show. This, above all, needs clear-eyed investigation, free of Issafication.
I’m aware that I’m rationalizing, to a certain extent, things that I might not have rationalized had someone else done them. I’m no angel. And it’s clear that Congressional Rs and the frothers at Fox are a heck of a lot more outraged at things that have happened under Obama than they ever were when the same, and much worse, happened under Bush. President Obama made what I assume was a political calculation not to pursue prosecution of war crimes and war lies by his predecessor, which have cost us more in lives and treasure than anything since, by too far to count; I guess he thought if he did, it’d cause Rs to obstruct everything he had in mind for his presidency. And that it’d fracture the country even further. How’s that for irony? Might be his most grievous miscalculation of all.
Either way, though, I admit I’m feeling a little let down by Obama right now.