Winning, In Spite Of Himself
Having effectively neutered the GOP scandal mongers on Benghazi by releasing emails proving no cover-up took place, (emails that the GOP had months ago), the Obama administration hopes to continue on a dual-track strategy of focusing on achievable small things while devoting a separate effort to scandal-management. Today's NYT reports that the administration will work to get something done on immigration, see if a budget deal is possible, and focus on student loans, implementing health care, and smaller things through executive order while hoping the GOP steam peters out.
It's a good strategy, except one word was missing from the Obama agenda: jobs. This is a critical mistake, but one he has already made back in 2009 when he downplayed jobs and the stimulus. He is about to make the mistake again. Sure, Obama should take credit for and talk up the declining deficits under his watch, but hammering the GOP for ignoring jobs to focus on scandal is low-hanging fruit for this administration, and would greatly help 2014 Democratic candidates. Yet Obama's team tosses this away at their peril.
As for the remaining "scandal" of interest to the public, the IRS ham-handed selective oversight of conservative Section 501(c)(4) applicants, the White House should not assume it can sweep this one under the rug until it has an answer regarding this:
The inspector general gave Republicans some fodder Friday when he divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.
If Treasury knew about this ongoing audit in June 2012, in the midst of the election season, then where the hell was Tim Geithner? Are we to believe that one of his deputies knew about this audit but the news never made its way through Geithner to the White House? There are several possible explanations here, and none are good.