With everything the Republican Party has thrown at Barack Obama, why has so little of it gained traction? For all his alleged wrongs, Obama still won a second term. I think it has a lot to do with what the American public can grok.
Let’s look at arguably the two biggest scandals of the past 30 years. Iran-Contra, trading arms for hostages. Those four words say it all. Easy to understand, easy to get outraged about. Lying about receiving fellatio from a subordinate in the Oval Office. Again, what could be simpler?
Fast forward to 2009.
Fast and Furious: too complicated a plot line with the reasonable fallback excuse of “sometimes an operation gets botched.”
Benghazi: the fog of war makes the real story debatable, Americans don’t have the patience to sort through all of it and the fallback excuse “sometimes an operation gets botched.”
IRS: might have had legs if Joe next door got abused but WTF is a 501(c)(4) anyway? Yawn, change the channel.
But Obama’s luck, for lack of a better word, may have finally run out.
The failed ACA rollout: forget the “you can keep your doctor” misinformation; the real kicker here was a website that didn’t work. We live in an age where even the dumbest ignoramus uses a computer and can tell a sucky web site from a good one. Obama flubbed the most fundamental aspect of his landmark legislation — the ability to actually sign up for it. This won him universal skepticism about his competence. This was capped off by the “well-timed” resignation of his Secretary of HHS.
The VA Scandal: you don’t mess with one of our most beloved minorities, the combat veteran. Not only were they dying, waiting for treatment, but the public was being lied to about the speed at which folks were being admitted into the system. This, again, is an example of basic incompetence easily understood by the American public and repugnant to 99% of it. This was capped off by the resignation of his Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Bergdahl Trade: we traded a traitor for five (arguably) dangerous Gitmo detainees. What could be easier to understand? Again, this scandal plays on America’s reverence for noble military service and its fear of terrorists. In the Benghazi conflict Susan Rice’s comments are still debated to this day as to their veracity at the moment she spoke them. In this case, however, she outright lied about Bergdahl’s “honorable” service. This weekend she clarified that her remarks referred to Bergdahl’s enlisting in the service but I think most of us would agree the honor is in serving, not in enlisting and certainly not in deserting.
Regarding the Bergdahl fiasco, I spent much of the past week shaking my head and saying “I just don’t understand this. Why the Rose Garden grandiosity? Why not do this on the down-low? Why the claim of imminent death due to poor health when the dude looks in pretty good shape? Why not give Congress the 30 days notice? Poor project planning or brazen contempt for the law?” I am no armchair foreign policy expert. If I was thinking this, then I assure you many others in the country were wondering the same thing.
For reasons I cannot wrap my head around, Obama has transitioned from complicated conflicts where good arguments could be made on both sides, to getting the basics wrong — to blowing the easy stuff. All the Republicans need is control of the Senate and these easy to understand examples of incompetence, in some cases mendacity, mean impeachment cannot be far away. The public won’t tolerate a trumped-up impeachment but they won’t object too loudly if Obama makes it too easy.
With each new screw-up, that is exactly what Obama is doing.