The Republicans’ obsession

By Peter Fenn – 05/20/13 02:52 PM ET

I’m tired.

Under Bill Clinton we had to endure the Republicans’ obsession with so-called “scandal” Whitewater, the death of Vince Foster, the travel office, and finally Monica Lewinsky and impeachment.

It was all so exhausting and so useless and so far from doing the people’s business.

Nevertheless, Bill Clinton had one of the most successful presidencies in modern times.

Ever since Barack Obama was elected, various elements of the Republican Party have engaged in nothing but petty character assassination, false accusations and partisan political attacks designed to undermine his presidency.


Sadly, the press refuses to call them on it and, in my view, the Obama team is being far too tolerant of the absurd charges. The president’s senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer hit back this weekend but more voices should be heard. 

Think about it. The first term saw the birther movement, a definition of insanity if there ever was one. How many years can you spend on a birth certificate? Then there was Obama the Muslim, Obama the socialist. Crazy. None of it stuck.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the scandal-monger in chief, won’t give up. He told Rush Limbaugh last year that Obama was “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”

Now he is setting out to prove it with investigation after investigation. If ever there was a true witch hunt, this is it. Keep berating witnesses, keep asking for useless documents, keep leveling accusations without regard for the facts: this is the time-honored tradition of some Republicans since Bill Clinton.

The IRS investigation is a far cry from a “Watergate” scandal. There was no conspiracy, no effort to go after “enemies” emanating from the White House. Two dozen liberal groups were also singled out according to Sunday’s The New York Times.

The real scandal is that large political groups were allowed to spend without limit on political campaigns and without disclosing their donors. Over $250 million in unreportable contributions. That is the real wrongdoing. This is where the outrage should be directed and where the hearings on the Hill should go.

As for Benghazi, it was a tragedy and surely a mistake to pull together the talking points for Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before the facts were all in and the situation analyzed. But, again, was it a conspiracy, a vast effort to mislead? Not close. This investigation is going nowhere.

Finally, the AP-leaks issue? This should help lead us to a clear definition of policies toward civil liberties, something long overdue since the trampling done by the Bush-Cheney administration. The technology at the government’s disposal is too vast and too intrusive for us to ignore the harm it can do to our freedoms. This should not be a partisan issue, but a privacy issue.

We need to focus on the problems at hand. As Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, made clear: it is time to look into new ideas on job creation, how to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and what to do to help those caught in the foreclosure crisis.

American voters want Washington to hear them on boosting the economy, not holding hearings that lob political cheap shots.

Strange, isn’t it, that we don’t hear much from these Republicans about the economy when the stock market is going up, unemployment is going down, inflation is holding steady and $200 billion has been shaved from the deficit projections in just three months.

Just as with Bill Clinton, it is still about the economy. Made-up scandals will get the Republicans exactly nowhere.

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