My View: Scandal…the most overused and abused word in politics
Calling every failing of those in high places “scandals” has become the most overused and abused word in politics these past 12 months. Politicians beware. Voters are smarter than you think. All scandals are not equal and you may be able to fool some voters part of the time, but not all voters all of the time.
Since Watergate, all those seeking to take down a powerful person have found scandal mongering to be the most effective tool in the political arsenal. 24/7 ideologically partisan news channels and eager beaver investigative reporters are the megaphones, hoping to make any shortcoming the equal of Watergate by call it a “scandal” too. Calling it one does not make it one.
Voters have shown the ability to tell the difference between a serious scandal, and one that is a lesser offense that is not a game changer. The sexual misconduct of Pres. Bill Clinton may have gotten him impeached, his policies and execution of his duties may have been delayed, but they were not stopped. Voters saw through the politics of that impeachment process: an attempt to cripple a leader with morals charges to block his agenda. In contrast, Watergate cover up and dirty deeds traced directly to Pres. Richard Nixon’s scheming resulted in his resignation to avoid impeachment.
Hillary Clinton and Ben Ghazi and New Jersey Governor Christ Christie’s Bridge gate, and rogue IRS agents discriminating against conservatives groups in a distant office are hawked to media consumers as equally serious “scandals.” These share very different DNA, one about political hard ball and charges of misuse of power by Christie’s officials and another, Clinton, about failure to use power and misjudgments of underlings and even of a victim himself. True, this resulted in four dead Americans. IRS discrimination against conservative groups were never traced to President Obama. What all have in common is they are as much about the presidential race in 2016 and midterms 2014 and the fodder they give potential opponents.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at his epic news conference, “politics ain’t beanbag” as he defended himself against charges his staff took revenge on political “enemies” by blocking traffic on the George Washington Bridge. New accusations that he used rewarding of Hurricane Sandy repair funds as a bludgeon are emerging. So far it looks like he plays politics with a hockey puck. Whether it rises to a crime and he is found to hold the smoking gun is not yet known nor is it to be automatically assumed. Voters should wait and see.
Wait and see about Ben Ghazi should be over. The bi-partisan report issued in January by the Senate Intelligence Committee moved Ben Ghazi from the Fox chatterers to the main stream topic, and it did pin blame on the State Department. The decisions that contributed to the tragedy were never traced to policy directives from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The buck did not get passed to her. But for now Ben Ghazi becomes a continuing “scandal” in the eyes of the GOP. Some Republicans vowed just to ignore the report and to keep on putting a fictitious smoking gun in her hands. Most voters will not buy that line. The evidence is just not there.
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