John Boehner has been handed a golden opportunity to shut down President Obama’s second term agenda served on a silver platter in the form of numerous administration scandals requiring House investigations.
President Obama began his second term pushing an even more ambitious agenda buoyed by his win over Republican Mitt Romney in November. His first initiative was sweeping gun control prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Gun control is another long sought liberal pillar on par with universal healthcare, and it is speculated that Fast & Furious was to be the vehicle to achieve this dream in the first term before it imploded with the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Effective NRA opposition to this flawed legislation and incompetent reporting by a press hostile to gun ownership swayed public opposition that finally doomed this effort.
Immigration reform amounting to de facto amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens currently in the U.S. as a potential new Democrat voting bloc has been positioned as an early second term initiative. Conservative freshman Senator Marco Rubio has pushed immigration reform as a natural issue considering his background, but he has naively allowed himself to be used by the left as the spokesman for their amnesty plan. Rubio’s desire to get something done has temporarily blinded him into supporting bad legislation in the process.
Obama’s primary goal in his second term has been recapturing the House to push legislation through a Democrat congress. Not as farfetched as it sounds given the fact that he wasn’t expected to win a second term having presided over such a lousy economy, and the expectation that Republicans would make significant gains in the Senate in 2012, which they failed to do. His plan was to sail along painting House Republicans as obstructionists focused on partisan attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the hopes that voters would reinstall the Democrats to break the partisan gridlock everyone decries so much.
Obama and the Democrats promoting the partisan gridlock line fail to account for the fact that as much as voters hate gridlock, they prefer it over the radical progressive agenda Obama and the Democrats seek to enact. What voters really dislike about gridlock is the inability to repeal ObamaCare and other progressive initiatives that threaten the already fragile economy that is already not creating jobs for the millions of unemployed who no longer qualify for unemployment benefits.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has walked a fine line attempting to obstruct the progressive agenda as much as possible without appearing to be obstructionist to the public. Boehner met with the president numerous times during the budget negotiations even after it was apparent to everyone that Obama was deliberately sabotaging any chance of a deal to perpetuate the idea that Boehner and House Republicans were being obstructionists. Boehner has been boxed in by the fact that Democrats control the Senate and have the ability to sit back and wait on the House for legislation which they can either kill or mark up any way that pleases them. Once this marked up legislation is sent back to the House, Senate Democrats begin complaining of House obstructionism at any hint of House changes.
When Republicans recaptured the House in 2010, newly installed Republican committee chairs began looking into several administration scandals such as the Fast & Furious gun walking scandal in which Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department approved and administered an ATF operation to allow guns to be smuggled into Mexico. ATF agents were instructed to allow guns bought through straw purchases and being followed by agents to cross into Mexico in an unprecedented effort to link them to major Mexican drug cartel leaders. The illegal operation blew up in December 2010 when three of these tagged guns the ATF had allowed out of their sight turned up at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder.
Stonewalling by the Obama Administration and the studious silence of the media resulted in no Justice Department officials being punished for their participation in this illegal operation. In fact, several of the key ATF leaders who perpetrated this operation were promoted to other positions within the Justice Department. Attorney General Holder was never held accountable for his knowledge of the operation despite several instances of having to walk back statements he made to congress. Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating the Fast & Furious scandal, was ridiculed by the media and accused of being on a partisan witch hunt.
The September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya caught State Department and administration officials off guard immediately prior to the November elections. They were left scrambling to develop an explanation minimizing the damage to their already strained election prospects. The attack which claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was blamed on a spontaneous demonstration over an obscure Internet video despite overwhelming evidence that it had been a planned and coordinated attack by al-Qaeda operatives. Ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday talk shows no fewer than five times to promote the administration line that this was a demonstration over the obscure Internet video that had gotten out of control.
The administration narrative quickly began to unravel as leaks started emerging showing that Ambassador Stevens had been asking for additional security in Libya from the State Department for some time prior to the attacks, and that he suspected attacks were being planned for the anniversary of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. State Department officials denied Stevens’ numerous requests for additional security assets despite the evidence he had concerning the possibility of attacks.
For a time, the Benghazi scandal settled into a simmer while House investigators went about their business collecting evidence. Over the course of their investigations, we became aware that a number of high profile State Department whistleblowers were preparing to testify to Congressman Issa’s committee over the Benghazi attacks and things began to heat back up.
On Wednesday of last week, Deputy Libyan Ambassador Gregory Hicks testified before Congress revealing a behind-the-scenes look at events on the ground in Libya the night the Benghazi mission was attacked back in September. Mr. Hicks was the number two U.S. State Department official in Libya, coordinating with Ambassador Stevens by phone from the U.S. Consulate in Tripoli as the events of that evening unfolded, and became the de facto U.S. Ambassador to Libya upon the death of Ambassador Stevens.
The picture Mr. Hicks and the other whistleblowers revealed contrasted sharply with the narrative fabricated by the White House. Immediately, the White House began to shift blame for the discrepancies on the intelligence community, blaming the CIA for providing faulty analysis of the situation. Intelligence officials pushed back by leaking details of the intelligence reports provided to the White House that further eroded the administration narrative. ABC News revealed through its sources that the Benghazi intelligence reports had been revised by the White House numerous times and that twelve sets of talking points existed from the back and forth. ABC revealed damaging emails from former State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in which she alluded to her superiors at State being unhappy with the talking point as they currently existed. She provided guidance on watering down specific portions of the talking points to further minimize the terrorist angle and mislead the American people into believing these attacks were perpetrated by irate demonstrators rioting over the obscure Internet video. Mr. Hicks revealed that Cheryl Mills, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, instructed State Department officials to obstruct Congressman Jason Chaffetz during his investigatory visit to Libya as a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requiring that they never be left alone with the congressman and that a State Department attorney always be present.
As the Benghazi scandal was becoming red hot last week, on Friday IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, addressing a group of attorneys, let slip an apology for the IRS targeting of conservative TEA Party groups applying for tax exempt status in the 2010 election cycle. Her bombshell admission that the IRS had targeted conservative groups set off a fire storm of anger directed at the IRS, and it is speculated that her admission was planned to deflect attention from the Benghazi scandal. It has since been confirmed that Lerner’s revelation was planted as a posed question by the White House in the hopes of burying its notice along with other news on Friday in the hopes it would be forgotten over the weekend.
President Obama held a press conference Wednesday in which he fired acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, promised to implement the findings in the IG report, and promised to work with congressional investigators to get to the bottom of this latest scandal. His faux outrage was accompanied by firing a man scheduled to leave anyway next month and doing two other things he was required to do anyway. Hearings are already being held this week, and congressmen from both parties seized on the opportunity to pile on the hated IRS as they relentlessly punched outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who it was revealed was not really fired but would be leaving as previously scheduled.
The final scandal came Monday with the revelation that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of the Associated Press for some two hundred reporters including phone records from the House press gallery to investigate the leaking of classified information. Members of the White House press corps were outraged to discover that they were being spied on by the administration they have labored so hard to protect these many years. It is suspected that this was administration payback for the AP blowing the administration’s planned publicity with its refusal to sit on the story of the foiled second underwear bomb plot in May 2012 just prior to the anniversary of bin Laden’s death.
This list doesn’t include the numerous smaller scandals that erupted this week including the revelation that Kathleen Sibelius is shaking down the healthcare industry to pay for implementation of ObamaCare, the news that the IRS leaked confidential tax records of conservatives to left wing groups, that the EPA waved FOIA fees for left wing environmental groups while charging conservative groups, that the US Marshalls have lost track of two terrorists in the witness protection program, and the revelation that the IRS stole 60 million personal medical records.
With all of these scandals coming out of the woodwork, John Boehner has the perfect excuse for shutting down President Obama’s second term agenda without looking obstructionist. Speaker Boehner should announce that the numerous administration scandals erupting over the past two weeks have severely weakened American confidence in the Obama Administration’s ability to govern effectively and require that he devote House attention to investigating these scandals in order to restore confidence to the American people that the government is being effectively administered. He should go on to say that these investigations shall take precedence over non essential House business so that they may be concluded in a timely manner, and that pending legislation such as immigration reform shall be suspended until such time as these investigations are concluded.
Failure to seize on this opportunity to shut down President Obama’s second term agenda and recapture Republican political momentum to put Democrats on the defensive ahead of the 2014 midterm elections is unforgivable and should cost Boehner the Speakership. Investigation of these scandals is likely to reveal additional scandals and result in numerous Obama Administration officials going to jail for their participation. We conservatives have long suspected foul play at work in the Obama Administration and our worst fears have been realized over the past two weeks. The pattern emerging from these scandals is the targeting of political opposition by the Obama Administration using government resources to suppress free speech and harass political opponents. In that regard, these scandals are serious indeed and require thorough investigation.