Thursday, May 16, 2013

Republicans Back Off, Afraid of Backlash




Accusations against President Obama and his administration that seem based more on theory than fact are flying around thick and fast. Republicans gather like hungry vultures around their pet illusion, the carcass. But they don’t dare get too close. They have memory, it seems, of moving in with sharp beaks and beady eyes too soon on what they were sure was the Bill Clinton carcass. Impeach! Impeach! Only he wasn’t dead. And it lost them the election.

At first, this time round, good sense didn’t prevail. Republicans went crazy hawking and squawking. First Benghazi. What hasn’t made the headlines, according to Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Foreign Staff, is that Benghazi embassy officials drafted a cable on August 16 stating that US Mission Benghazi would request extra security from the Tripoli US Embassy. Army General Carter Ham read the cable and didn’t wait. He called Ambassador Stevens immediately and offered a special US military security team. Stevens turned him down. Ham offered again a couple of weeks later when the two met in Germany at the headquarters of AFRICOM. Again, Stevens said no. 

Hilary Clinton has insisted she didn’t read that cable or know that Stevens had turned down help. Which Republicans refuse to believe. She caustically commented that thousands of emails had gone through her office every day and that she didn’t personally read every single one.  

Even if she had, though, what are the chances that she would have been able to persuade Stevens if General Carter Ham hadn’t been able to? Doesn’t Stevens have any responsibility in this at all? Of course he does. But he’s the dead hero and this is just about electioneering in any case. In truth, that carcass has truly been picked to death.  

The furor over IRS officials targeting Tea Party members has been blown totally out of proportion. Obama has expressed his outrage; there’s an already an investigation, and there’s no proof at all that he sanctioned the misdeeds. And the other side of the story isn’t reported on. Tax officials’ job is to find defaulters. It’s a pretty rational step to single out people who openly rage against big government and paying tax. I have never seen any objection to exactly the same tactic being used to take down Mafia. If those investigated had been Muslim, African American or Latino, would any Republicans care?

While we're building conspiracy theories about the anti-social, corrupt, devious President and his administration why not add another - that the IRS officials targeting Tea Party members were paid by moderate Republicans who need to get rid of the Tea Party in order to have any chance in the next election. Or that some Tea Party members offered themselves up as a sacrifice and did a kind of suicide bombing act: persuaded a loyal IRS official to target them. Ridiculous? Of course it is. Conspiracy theories usually are, no matter what side of the fence you’re on.

Republicans are good at manufacturing dirt and now seemed to be their opportunity. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch compared Obama to Nixon. Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz (Republican) and Michelle Bachman called for Obama to be impeached.  

But just when it looked like the feeding frenzy was peaking, they pulled back. Californian Representative Darrel Issa, the Republican who’s been outspoken in his condemnation of Obama and is leading a couple of investigations, suddenly calmed down and said he was working with the President. Jim Boehnor also calmed down and so did Louisiana Representative Charles Boustany Jr., (Republican) who has been driving an investigation of the IRS. He said “I’m being very cautious not to overplay my hand.” (nytimes.com). It’s unusual for Republicans to act sensibly. But they’re on thin ice and they know it. And they’re terrified of backlash.

Ultimately, here’s the thing: when you’re telling the truth and you can back it up with fact, you don’t need to back down. They didn't back down over Richard Nixon, did they?