•Multiple White House claims about Washington's handling of the murderous raid in Benghazi stand exposed as false.
•Internal Revenue Service officials admit a worse-by-the-day scandal that appalls fair-minded Americans.
•The U.S. Department of Justice scrambles to explain its clandestine
collection of records on work and personal telephone lines that The
Associated Press says are used by more than 100 of its journalists.
In reaction, the White House blames political opponents, disavows ownership or pleads ignorance.
Hard as it may be, then, set aside your own politics and ask yourself which of these Monday statements rings truer:
"The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this
process has been a sideshow. ... And suddenly, three days ago, this gets
spun up as if there's something new to the story. There's no 'there'
— President Barack Obama, dismissing congressional scrutiny of
his and his subordinates' statements about Benghazi as a "political
"Americans should take notice that top Obama administration
officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by
the belief that they don't have to answer to anyone."
— House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa
For now, many among us would take Option 2. With each of these
troubling disclosures, the Obama administration finds itself reacting to
appearances of overreach, of arrogance, of determination to dodge its
embarrassments rather than to take ownership of them.
We don't expect unanimity of agreement on this. On each of these
controversies, though, even some of the president's most loyal
supporters — from Capitol Hill to the liberal commentariat to Main
Streets across the land — are questioning the government's conduct on
his watch. That turnabout either angers or amuses opponents inclined to
ask the supporters, "Where have you been?"
At each of these turns, the Obama administration has looked
manipulative, defensive and peevish. In one sense those aren't startling
reactions; they're vulnerabilities for any White House that, like this
one, wants an image of moral righteousness, honesty and transparency.
Taken together, though, these controversies project a less flattering
image of truth-shading, hubris and intrusion. In the week of
humiliating disclosures that started with last Wednesday's congressional
hearing on Benghazi, Americans haven't seen the administration exhibit
... one shred of humility:
•The White House and State Department have taken vague responsibility
for Benghazi mistakes, but neither has produced answers to the most
crucial questions, starting with:
Who, exactly, had rejected repeated requests for security upgrades
from U.S. officials in Libya? Who, exactly, decided not to attempt a
military rescue, an F-16 flyover, a NATO or other allied reaction, something,
during the eight-hour assault? Who, exactly, let the task of informing
the American people deteriorate into an orgy of tail-covering and lies?
And why, exactly, does the president's spokesman still mislead Americans
by suggesting that the Central Intelligence Agency, rather than the
State Department or White House, drove that process — essentially
blaming CIA staffers who did the typing rather than blaming
administration officials who told them what to type? (Continues)