So, obviously the big magilla of the week is over the scandals folding over the Obama administration, with Benghazi, the IRS show, and the AP phone-record-gathering allowing partisans to slaver over the idea that the administration is at the very least done politically, if not on that slow boat toward impeachment. It is my opinion that by the end of the summer impeachment is a distinct possibility. Not because any of these issues merit it- they certainly don’t- but because the perversion of language, media, and the insular nature of our politics describes a set path, even if few want to go down the road.
Take the IRS scandal. The obvious comparison, made in many places, is with Nixon using the IRS to attack political enemies. This comparison is getting made so much, it is hardening into fact. And it is absolutely ridiculous, a series of historical non-sequitors slathered over with a a slimy coat of hysterical frothing. No one was audited; none of these groups were denied their status. At most, they endured delays and had to answer arduous questions. Now, one can say that their activities were curtailed as they hovered in a bureaucratic limbo, but they also were not required to become tax-exempt. No one forced them to reach for this status. There is no doubt that the IRS employees acted in a dumb and unfair manner, but to compare this even to Nixon is to not just stretch the truth, but tie it to the rack and quarter it. And yet, that doesn’t stop a major news station from having guests compare it to Nazi Germany, because of course.
Or take Benghazi: the whole uproar is over the who said what and when, on the Sunday talk shows. This is nonsense boiled down to its purest essence. This is an impossible distraction from what could be real security issues, or, as Joshua Foust points out, from the very real questions about the mission creep of the CIA and its role in national security.
But this post isn’t really about the meat of these issues (the AP one being the most legitimately troubling), but about how, in a very real way, the meat no longer matters. Does anyone really believe that pointing out how not one of those groups were denied status is actually going to change anything? Does anyone think that because the Republicans were the ones pushing for an investigation into the Yemen leaks, the investigation of which is what led to the AP phone-gathering, that they’re going to say to Obama, “well done”? Or that the majority of Dems won’t find a way to justify it?
(note: that wasn’t an attempt at Broderian equivalence-harvesting. I firmly believe that there is one side who has completely gone of the rails, but, as a friend of mine said, selective memory is a trait of anyone political.)
Because it doesn’t matter. The is an inexorable logic to impeachment, or at least to getting as near to it as possible before it explodes in the faces of those pushing for it. Because there is no longer any need for facts. Blogs will argue, pundits will go back and forth, there will be a rough general consensus that certain things are overblown, and other things are complete nonsense, but that won’t matter. There is no real consequence in going against what the majority of people believe. Huge majorities were in favor of expanded background checks, but that died a public and blood-choked death, and there wasn’t a single thing anyone could do about it.
We’re calcified and lumbering and in thrall to the worst. As long as you can scream loudly and get your talking points out over the madding dim, you’ve won. And so I think that there will be enough enthusiasm in the base, a not-insubstantial-number of whom believe that Obama orchestrated the attack so that Amb. Stevens would be captured, leading to Obama exchanging him for the Blind Shiek and therefore guaranteeing election, despite that being absolute gibbering insanity in all its forms, that the drums will keep beating until people have been lured dumb and blind and enraged and crazy into the waiting nets. Because even though the logic underneath the scandal has been exposed, the cruel logic of politics and the odd weightlessness of language is going to lead us into strange places this sweating summer.