The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A new Gallup poll finds that Americans are paying less attention to the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” than they typically do to major news stories.

Republicans are more likely than Independents or Democrats to be following both stories.

ovavcqwz2ugphedpx32e7a

They are also more inclined to believe both stories merit serious investigation.

zx7vzmeiwuwg1s3fasiljq

Here’s why that’s bad news for the GOP:

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 7.34.24 AM

Not only is the deficit lower than it has been in five years, but so is the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans.

Republicans are more likely to believe Benghazi needs more investigation, while Democrats and Independents find the IRS situation more serious.

With the constant fixation on the Benghazi story by Fox News and AM radio, it’s no surprise that Republicans believe this “scandal” is more dire for President Obama. The story flared up again last week when ABC News released talking points that suggested the aftermath of the attacks on the diplomatic outpost had been politicized. However, those talking points now appear to have been maliciously edited by Republicans, who had access to the documents for weeks.

This will not likely dissuade Republicans from continuing to pursue the scandal, after months of being told and telling each other that it is Obama’s Watergate.

The IRS scandal that began with the agency apologizing for its agents targeting Tea Party or “Patriot” groups seems more troubling to Democrats and Independents. But that could change as the story becomes more partisan.

Right-wing media and Republican politicians have embraced the story, with Speaker Boehner calling for perpetrators to be jailed and guests on Fox News saying this proves the administration stole the 2012 election, even though the status these groups were applying for as “social welfare non-profits” means they should not have been spending a majority of their time and money on partisan politics and electioneering.

Reports are suggesting that two rogue agents are responsible for much of of the so-called targeting. And the fact remains that none of the groups were denied the status they sought.

The National Memo‘s David Cay Johnston explains:

They picked 300 of them for close scrutiny. Seventy-five of them said ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ or Glenn Beck’s 9/11, things like that, and they selected them. They shouldn’t have done it on that basis. But the applications those groups made, because some of them have made public their responses so we know what their applications said, those applications were drafted in a way that basically said, ‘I’m really not a social welfare organization.’ So of course they came under scrutiny. They just shouldn’t have been picked the way they were. Can’t see a criminal case in that.

Obviously, the political implications of targeting opponents through the IRS worry President Obama, who has taken aggressive action to “fix” the problem since the Inspector General’s report came out. But Republicans too are running into a political situation here that may not be as advantageous as they first believed.

The GOP spent much of 2012 trying to play down its identification with the “Tea Party,” which is even less popular than the Republican Party. The way they’re reacting to this scandal shows them embracing the Tea Party completely, thus completely negating the argument that these Tea Party groups were deserving of “non-profit” status. Ultimately the scandal being pointed out is that these groups on the left and the right are completely partisan. And many of these organizations on the right only seek this status to hide their donors.

The one Obama “scandal” that seems to have offended many Democrats, the subpoenaing of phone records of AP reporters, was not polled by Gallup. And it’s not likely to be embraced by Republicans who called for investigations of national security leaks and generally oppose the media shield laws that would protect reporters from such invasions.

Republicans have finally found the scandals they’ve been looking for. But after years of throwing everything they’ve got at President Obama, it seems they’re mostly just talking to an increasingly smaller group of Republicans.

And that’s why even GOP leaders are worried that this may all backfire on them.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Uncovering The Plot Against America

Photo by Aubrey Hicks on Unsplash

Investigations of the terrible crimes committed against the United States at the Capitol last week had scarcely begun when the usual suspects launched a right-wing cover-up. Rather than blame the motley swarm of #MAGA fanatics, white nationalists and habitual criminals whom we all witnessed storming into the citadel of democracy to stop certification of the 2020 election, they pointed the finger to the antifa and Black Lives Matter movements.

But such a preposterous political alibi, premised on nonexistent evidence, won't stand up to the kind of scrutiny that must now be brought to bear on these momentous events. Long after President Donald Trump's impeachment is over and done, and regardless of whether he is convicted or not, the myriad investigations and trials of the perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection will go on for years. Justice will be done; the truth will be revealed; and the breadth of the assault on our constitutional democracy will stun even the jaded and cynical.

Keep reading... Show less