Why is it that the low-hanging fruit is always the sweetest?
I almost feel guilty for writing this post, because it's just too easy. No rhetorical flourishes are needed, no snarky slight-of-hand--just a hearty laugh, a shake of the head, and dashing off a few historical tidbits that aren't even open to interpretation. It's as if the fish in the barrel handed me a loaded Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum and said, "Go ahead. Make your day."
So here it is: Barack Obama thinks his administration had no scandals.
Yes, that Barack Obama--you know, the guy who once gladhandled the American public with the promise that if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor? Who once spent a $1 trillion in stimulus and didn't even have a lousy t-shirt to show for it? Who started out his presidency by winning a Nobel Peace Prize as a participation trophy? In comparing his two terms to the still-young Trump administration, he observed how remarkable it was that he had remained scandal free even as the Donald is racking up one controversy after another.
Newsweek--yes, it still exists--has the details, if you can read them without falling out of your chair:
President Barack Obama took a light swing at his successor during a tech conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. His eight years in office were scandal free, he told the audience.
"I didn't have scandals, which seems like it shouldn't be something you brag about," Obama joked.
The reason his presidency was relatively controversy free, he said, was because he was accepting of bad news. "No one in my White House ever got in trouble for screwing up as long there wasn't malicious intent behind it," he said.
Actually, nobody in his administration got in trouble for anything, no matter how badly they screwed the pooch. That's how we ended up with a Department of Veterans Affairs in which the people responsible for killing veterans with years-long wait times never got fired--but I'm getting ahead of myself.
This isn’t the first time Obama has bragged about being scandal free. Earlier this year he told an audience that his administration “didn't have a scandal that embarrassed us, I know that seems like a low bar."
The former president’s foes would disagree with that analysis, pointing to the 2012 Benghazi attack, his failure to close Guantanamo Bay, an IRS plan to scrutinize tax-exempt political groups based on the particulars of their politics and problems with the Affordable Care Act website.
Bully for Newsweek for at least including that flaccid noodle of a rebuttal--but seriously, banishing that argument as blather from the former president's foes? That's cutting Barry O. some pretty serious slack, especially considering that none of these things is open to question. Benghazi did result in the deaths of four Americans, including the ambassador, and it was caused by his administration's slipshod approach to the security situation in Libya. Obama then ordered his national security adviser to lie to the American people about it, and had the hapless maker of an obscure internet video jailed to cover up his incompetence. As to Obama's IRS, a federal court found that it indeed targeted conservative groups for purely political reasons, and the agency has been ordered to cough up a buttload of money to those groups for violating their civil rights. That's a lot more than some alt-right pundit grousing about double standards when it comes to scandals.
And it doesn't end there. The rank corruption at the Justice Department reared its ugly head with Fast & Furious, a misbegotten sting operation that got border agent Brian Terry killed along with God knows how many innocent Mexican citizens. As if that weren't bad enough, there is strong evidence that the administration then engaged in computer espionage against a few brave journalists who actually wanted to cover the story--including Sharyl Atkisson, who has produced hard proof that her computer was hacked from a federal government IP address.
Then there's the "matter" of Hillary Clinton and her email server, which she used to send classified information in violation of federal law. As more news about that situation trickles out, it's becoming obvious that the FBI and the DOJ had little interest in pursuing the case, because doing so would land the Democrat nominee for president in legal jeopardy while exposing Barack Obama as complicit in Clinton's use of a private email server. At the same time, those same agencies appeared to have engaged in covert surveillance of the Trump campaign for political reasons--an abuse of power that, if it bears out, would be the Mother of All Scandals, unprecedented in its brazenness and scope.
But Barack Obama isn't embarrassed by any of that--although he might have been, had the mainstream media bothered to hold him to account with even a tenth of the scrutiny they give Donald Trump.