This was arguably the most consequential week of President Obama’s second term, maybe of either. What changed?
The insanity of allowing the Internal Revenue Service to implement and police Obamacare reached its apex when ABC News reported:
The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a terse reaction Thursday evening: “Stunning, just stunning.”
Mainstream reporters and a good chunk of the punditocracy have turned against the president. When everyone from Jon Stewart to Bob Schieffer is ragging on Obama for his feigned cluelessness about multiple scandals, you know there has been a shift in the political landscape.
The president’s every utterance is now viewed with heightened skepticism, and Republicans’ complaints on everything from Benghazi to Obamacare look a whole lot more credible. (Being on the money will do that for you.)
Media Matters beclowned itself in defending the Justice Department’s snooping on the Associated Press and reminded us how many liberal media figures simply follow its talking points, no matter how silly.
Jay Carney’s serial misstatements on Benghazi caught up with him when he upped the ante and falsely denied making inaccurate representations to the media (e.g. only “stylistic” changes in the talking points, he said).
No one can be certain we’ve seen the last of the scandals. The IRS, Department of Justice, HHS (shaking down health-care companies for “contributions” to Obamacare) and now the EPA (“The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general will review claims the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to waive public records fees for conservative groups while granting the waivers for environmental organizations”) give the impression that there is widespread misuse of power in the Obama administration. Every agency whistleblower in town and every oversight committee will be piling on if they find similar instances of harassment of the president’s political opponents.
In 2013, it is becoming as toxic as being associated with George W. Bush in his second term and scrambles expectations about 2014 and 2016. Both could very well be change elections rather than “endorse Obama” and “give him a third term,” respectively.
The argument for Republican control of the Senate got a whole lot stronger, and the one for Democratic control of the House got a whole lot weaker. Oversight, oversight, oversight. Democrats who were asleep at the wheel and who rubber-stamped Obama nominees better look alert and not be seen as running interference for him. If the Democrats aren’t going to be a check on the executive, then the GOP should have control of Congress, the argument goes.
The public takes this stuff very seriously, and Obama risks losing his perpetual advantage in approval over Congress. Gallup reports: “Most Americans agree that both of these situations are serious enough to warrant continuing investigation, with little difference in views of the two — 74% for the IRS matter and 69% for Benghazi. Americans place similar importance on these two issues despite the administration’s appearing to give more weight to the IRS situation.” And that’s with more than half of Democrats trying to pay as little attention as possible (sort of like the president!) to the scandals.
In other words, this week really was a game-changer.