Last November Barack Obama squeaked through with arguably the weakest reelection in American history. He won the race even though he got fewer popular and electoral votes than in 2008. But would he have been given a second term if voters knew what his administration had been up to? Let’s review.
1. Using the IRS to systematically target and intimidate conservative political groups. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and free association. The scandal involving IRS actions against over 500 conservative, pro-Israel and other political groups strikes at the heart of these Constitutional guarantees. For over two years the IRS collected or attempted to collect comprehensive lists of contributors, supporters, publications, social media posts, books, news reports, even the names of minor students. We do not yet know what became of the wealth of information the IRS collected, what databases it was entered into, or for what other purposes it was used. This conscious, systematic abuse of IRS power had no other purpose than to squelch Mr. Obama’s political opponents and enhance Mr. Obama’s electoral fortunes and those of his partisan fellow travelers.
2. Using the Justice Department covertly to collect information on the press. Freedom of the press is another central Constitutional guarantee. The Justice Department, allegedly as part of an investigation related to a breach in national security, secretly collected telephone records from the Associated Press, which allowed them to map out the wire service’s entire news gathering operation. The chilling effect on press freedom is obvious. What is not obvious is whether the AP was the only Justice Department target. Other news organizations could well have been the subject of this or other secret programs. And, as with the IRS scandal, the public does not yet know what the wealth of information the government collected was used for, who else was given access to it, or where it currently resides. Attorney General Eric Holder says he knows nothing, but even if that is true, someone knows everything.
3. The Benghazi coverup. It was clear even before the 2012 election that something was amiss on the Benghazi attack. Shifting story lines from the White House, coupled with emerging facts that contradicted official explanations, created a lingering atmosphere of doubt. Documents are now coming to light that show the extent of the administration coverup. It was intended to deflect blame from the administration for the intelligence and security failures leading up the attack, and the failure to respond to the assault once it commenced. The White House coverup succeeded long enough to get through the election, when they perhaps thought the events would be forgotten. As then-Secretary of State Clinton said, “What difference does it make?” But it makes a big difference, and would have made a bigger one before the election. Recent document dumps have further compromised White House credibility. And in contrast to the famous 18 and a half minute gap in the Nixon tapes, there is a critical 67 hour gap in the White House emails, covering the critical period from the onset of the attack and the initiation of the coverup. The public still does not know what was going on in the administration in those crucial first hours, who met with whom, where the president was and what he was doing, what decisions were made, by whom and why. Mr. Obama angrily denounced this as a “sideshow,” but the Benghazi scandal is far from over.
4. The Obamacare train wreck. Obamacare was supposed to control health care costs, make care more available, and streamline bureaucratic processes. It I turning out to be the most expensive, inefficient and disastrous program ever conceived. In part this is because of the haste in which it was written, a program that had to be passed before anyone could know what was in it, per Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment. But even the authors of Obamacare knew it would be a burden on the majority of Americans, which is why implementation of its most onerous provisions were delayed until after the 2012 election. Now that Obamacare is starting to bite, the administration is seeking further delays until after the 2014 mid-term elections. The fact that the now-compromised IRS will be enforcing the system – and collecting a wealth of personal, private health information — only increases public nervousness. Had Mr. Obama’s namesake legislative achievement been fully implemented in his first term instead of phased in past the election, he would not be in the Oval Office today.
5. Obama the tuned-out caretaker president. The White House line thus far regarding the scandals is that Mr. Obama knew nothing about anything. And none of his top aides seem to have been in the loop either. They only know what they read in the papers. The takeaway from this is that Mr. Obama is completely tuned out from his job, a figurehead executive who is more concerned with making speeches, attending fundraisers and playing golf than with doing the serious job of being president. It’s either that or the administration is continuing to duck, dodge, weave, coverup, obfuscate, and otherwise lie about the central involvement of senior administration officials in these abuses of power, including the president. Either way – caretaker or charlatan – it does not reflect well on Mr. Obama.
Give all this – and all that is yet to be revealed – how many voters would have cast their ballots the other way in November 2012? Perhaps enough to have returned adult leadership to Washington. Live and learn.
James S. Robbins is Deputy Editor of Rare. Follow him on Twitter at @James_Robbins