May 15, 2013

Just in: Barack Obama gave a statement this evening on the IRS affair, saying that he “will not tolerate” misbehavior from any agency, and especially the IRS, and that the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, has resigned. That’s about all he can do at this point. Even Darrell Issa said, on CNN, that “the president set exactly the right tone.”  The question, of course, is whether any new facts come out to support continuing news stories.  For that, we’ll have to see.

1. The White House dumped the emails concerning the Benghazi talking points late this afternoon. Early reaction: yes, there was interagency fighting, as one would expect (and as we’ve known for some time). Expect reporters (and partisans) to pick at the bones of this for a while, and to try to find some differences, even minute ones, because what’s in there and what we’ve already known (and what the White House has said). It’s still not clear to me why anyone should care about this.

2. No, really. I’m sorry to sound cranky, but this just isn’t anything. But if you really care about it, Ryan Lizza finds an email which tells the story: this was State vs. CIA, not the White House trying to spin it (much less cover anything up) for electoral reasons.

3. While Kevin Drum highlights two key points on Benghazi from Greg’s item earlier today. Bottom line: everything about the talking points is trumped up nonsense.

4. Very nice analysis from Jonathan Chait of the building of a press frenzy.

5. See also Paul Waldman’s overview of scandal week.

6. If you want to see the effects, see Aaron Blake’s live-blogging of Eric Holder’s trip to the Hill today. Short version: everyone looked bad.

7. Scott Lemieux tackles the Justice Department’s scooping up of Associated Press phone records, arguing that what Justice did was probably legal, but that’s no excuse for it.

8. See also the history of the Obama administration’s historically radical prosecutions for leaking, from Thomas Stackpole. As I said yesterday: presidents should be listening to leaks, not worrying about them.

9. North Carolina women use a “Mad Men” protest in the state legislature there against restricted access to contraception; Laura Bassett reports.

10. Calm down, everyone, on one point: as Sarah Kliiff explains, the IRS scandal isn’t going to be a factor in the IRS’s role in Affordable Care Act implementation.

11. Paul Krugman on the phony debt crisis, then and now.

12. How Maureen Down plays it; nice catch by Steve M.

13. Mark Sanford is a Member of Congress again. Enjoy.

14. Also, the Senate confirmed Marilyn Tavenner to be Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services — the first time they’ve confirmed someone for that job in seven years.

15. And if you’re at all interested in the race and IQ debate…or just interested in the United States, for that matter, today’s must-read is Ta-Nehisi Coates on the complexities of “race.”