Friday, May 24, 2013

GOP: Don't overplay your hand

Republicans have a nasty habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Just when you think they may have it won they find a way to lose it.  The latest trio of issues swirling around the White House might very well be President Obama’s undoing if only the Republicans don’t overplay their hand.  One of the three is not really a scandal.  Can the Republicans tell which one?

Some conspiracy theorists believe the entire IRS scandal is a red herring, a diversion to distract us from the Benghazi scandal.  Were that true the Democrats would had to have planned the entire scheme two years in advance because that’s when the IRS started targeting conservative groups.

Outgoing IRS Commissioner Steve Miller now claims they grouped the conservative applications together so that one group wouldn’t be approved while another was being reviewed.  No one thought to ask Mr. Miller one simple question.  How did he know which groups were conservative?  That simple question would’ve boxed him in a corner.  Once again, the Republicans wasted a golden opportunity.

But where a lot of Republicans and conservatives are overreaching is on the Fox News story.  Like the AP story, it’s not a scandal.  It may have been heavy-handed treatment by the administration but, so far, there’s nothing to indicate anything illegal.

In the case of reporter James Rosen from Fox News, he was reporting information on North Korea that was classified.  Whether or not he knew it was classified is another matter but this administration – any administration – is obligated to plug such leaks and that’s what they did.

They accessed security badge records at the State Department from Rosen and matched his movements to department employees.  They obtained a search warrant for his e-mails and between the two found the leak.  Now Fox News is outraged that the administration was targeting their reporter.  The fact is had he not been broadcasting classified information there would’ve been no investigation.

As I’ve stated before, the administration’s investigation into the Associated Press over another leak pertaining to a CIA operation in Yemen is what’s driving the mainstream media to actually do their job on the IRS and Benghazi scandals.  The last thing the Republicans need to be doing is trying to equate the AP and Fox News issues with the real scandals.  Once all the facts come to light and it’s clear the administration was simply trying to plug leaks the Republicans cannot have been on the wrong side of those issues if they want to be on the right side of the real scandals.

Obviously the IRS was targeting not only conservative groups but conservative individuals.  Who knows how deep or how high this scandal goes.  We do know that senior White House officials were aware of the Inspector General’s investigation.  Saying they never told the president stretches credulity. 

We also now know the State Department gutted the original CIA talking points on Benghazi and inserted their own, including the ridiculous notion that the attack was simply the product of a YouTube video protest gone bad.  The simple question is who made up the excuse about the video and why?

If the Republicans allow themselves to get sucked into the Fox News story as some sort of scandal they run the risk of destroying the credibility of the real scandals and that would be a real shame.

This is probably as close as we will ever get to leveraging an issue to make fundamental changes in our tax system and scale back the beast known as the Internal Revenue Service.  Please, Republicans, don’t blow it.

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