We’ve got four separate scandals exploding right now, each one arguably bigger than the last: Benghazi, Sebelius extorting health-care execs to fund ObamaCare, the DOJ harvesting reporters’ phone records to see who they’re talking to, and of course the metastasizing revelations about the IRS targeting conservative groups. When mulling the reasons why people are cynical about government, you might think that cover-ups and harassment of political opponents by the ruling administration are, shall we say, a “key factor.”
But you’d be wrong.
“What’s blocking us right now is a sort of hyper-partisanship in Washington that I was, frankly, hoping to overcome in 2008,” Obama said today, according to the pool report. “My thinking was when we beat them in 2012 that might break the fever, and it’s not quite broken yet. But I am persistent. And I am staying at it. And I genuinely believe there are Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them…
“As a consequence we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government,” he told donors. “My intentions over the next 3 ½ years are to govern. … If there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation then I want to make sure there are consequences to that.”
He said that at a fundraiser, which is also how he spent the evening following the attack in Benghazi. Say what you will about the man but his priorities are at least consistent.
Why would he fall back on a talking point this lame knowing how it will look tomorrow floating in a sea of news about government malfeasance? Just force of habit, I think. When you’re under stress, routine is a comfort. For all the talk about his sunny, optimistic Hopenchange campaign in 2008, he got elected ultimately by being the anti-Bush. He got reelected last year by accusing Romney of being a woman-hating plutocrat. In 2010, when he was momentarily deprived of a GOP villain-in-chief, he resorted to tossing spurious charges about shady foreign donors at the Chamber of Commerce. He’s always been defined as much by what he isn’t, i.e. a contrast to whoever the right-wing foil du jour happens to be, as what he is. Go figure that with bad news crashing down from every direction, he’d retreat into boilerplate about how things would work much better in D.C. if only conservative talk radio wasn’t browbeating Republicans. See now why Ross Douthat thinks the left’s “tone” might have contributed to what the IRS did?