The opposition to Barack Obama has been extraordinarily vicious and vindictive throughout his Presidency. He has been accused of the wildest allegations from being a Muslim to a Socialist to planning to destroy America. Yet the common thread linking these scandals is not any actual wrong doing, but rather blind hatred by people who so desperately wish to see a scandal that they twist any minor issue. This is the case in the attempts to create a corruption scandal with Solyndra, link Obama to gun running gone wrong in Fast and Furious, accusations of a cover in the unending Benghazi saga. These phony scandals have so little behind them that I had chosen not to give them any credence by addressing them; however, they refuse to go away so I will point out how false they are.
The first so-called scandal of the Obama administration was over Solyndra, a solar power company that received a loan of $535 million and went bankrupt. Paul Ryan even made it a key part of his first speeches as vice Presidential candidate, claiming the stimulus was spent on cronyism and patronage like Solyndra (a wild accusation if there ever was one). For weeks, my newsfeed was full of conservative outrage and claims of a massive scandal, yet nothing wrong was done. There is always a chance that a private company will go bankrupt, if it didn’t it wouldn’t be private. If the government wanted to avoid losing their investment and Republican claims of wasting taxpayer money, they could have set up a state energy company (though that would have lead to charges of socialism). Whenever a loan is made, there is always a chance of default and to pretend otherwise merely shows an ignorance of economics. It is impossible for the government to ensure that every loan it makes will pay off. Some will win and some will lose. Some Republicans oppose funding solar power, but all energy industries need heavy government support and subsidies in order to get up and running.
In a pattern common to these “scandals”, Republicans are outraged, but it’s clear what at. They want someone to be fired but don’t know why. They accuse the CEO of Solyndra of misleading people, but it is a feature of all firms on the verge on bankruptcy that their CEOs remain unrealistically overoptimistic, which is not a crime. There are attempts to turn this into a corruption scandal as Solyndra donated money to the Democratic Party, but then again, a solar power company would hardly donate to the Republicans? America is such a big country that huge numbers donate to parties, so there is nothing special about Solyndra. Some e-mails suggest that Obama aides may have tried to speed up the process of obtaining a loan, but this too is no scandal or smoking gun, but rather the usual workings of government. The stories also fail to mention that Solyndra received a government loan during the Bush administration and it represents only a tiny fraction of the loans component of the stimulus.
Fast And Furious
I remember while watching “The Wire” the police find the gangs stash house and are left with a dilemma. Either they swoop in now or wait and observe the gang in order to gain evidence and hopefully catch the higher up gang members. They know that it would be far more effective to wait, but there is also a chance that the gang moves and they lose their chance. This small-fish-now-or-big-fish-later reminds me of the “Fast And Furious” debacle. What Republicans fail to mention is that this was a program started in 2006 under George Bush where gun running along the Mexican border would be monitored and sting operations launched. These operations are inherently risky, but you can’t beat drug cartels by playing it safe. Had the operation been successful, the agents would have been heroes. But it failed and so they are villains. It is this sort of overreaction that hampers government risk taking and encourages a play-it-safe mentality.
While it is bad that the guns fell into the wrong hands (and were used to kill a federal border agent) it is not Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder’s fault. Both of them are responsible for hundreds of thousands of employees so complete supervision is not possible. In fact it is highly unlikely that either knew the operation was ongoing. After all, this is a democracy, not a dictatorship where the supreme leader controls every single aspect of people’s lives. It is hard to match the Republican outrage with the fact that those guns were legally bought in Arizona. Surely if they want to keep guns out of the hands of drug cartels they should make it harder to buy guns? The allegations have gotten even wilder with Republicans not only claiming Obama wanted to kill Americans, but that he wanted to do that as a false-flag operation to push through gun control. Worrying this nonsense is endorsed by leading Congressmen and Senators including Newt Gingrich who came uncomfortably close to be the Republican Presidential candidate.
On September 11th 2012 the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked and four Americans were killed including the Ambassador. This was obviously a tragedy, but the reaction was a disgrace. Instead of rallying around the flag when their country was in danger (which is what real patriots do) Republicans scrambled to blame Obama and construct a scandal. He was quickly bombarded with allegations of cover ups, despite the fact that no one was quite clear what crime he had committed or what motive he would have to commit a cover-up. Romney tried to get ahead in the polls by claiming Obama was apologising to the attackers for America, an allegation which made absolutely no sense, even to his advisors. His initial statement said “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This cheap political stunt was widely condemned and Romney himself back tracked.
And so it should have ended. But for some reason Republicans continued to claim Obama was guilty, yet they never got any closer in finding out what he was guilty of. Yes it was bad that an American consulate was attacked, but there were 13 attacks on American consulates during Bush’s Presidency without any claims of a scandal. It is also a tragedy that Americans were killed, but at the same time, how many Americans were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Much more than four, yet their deaths do not warrant the same reaction. Republicans have put a huge amount of effort into finding some evidence of a crime that they can use to impeach Obama, but they are left clutching at straws.
Out of desperation they latched onto attacking Susan Rice for her comments after the attack. At the time, it was thought that the attack was motivated by the anti-Islamic video The Innocence Of Muslims. However, it has since become clear that the attack was pre-planned. That this is the core of the alleged cover-up shows just how desperate some people are for a scandal. The aftermath of any attack is uncertain and there are always rumours swirling. However, what is most striking is how little this matters. Who cares whether they initially thought the video played a role, what difference does it make? Does it matter whether the word terrorist was used or not, or how it was phrased? How is that a cover-up? How does Obama gain? What is his motive? If you think about this, you realise that Obama has absolutely no reason to launch a cover-up and nothing to gain from one. That Republicans were able to use this nonsense to prevent Susan Rice from becoming Secretary of State is absurd.
Yet Republicans persist in accusing Obama of a crime for which they is no evidence, motive for him to commit or goal for him to gain. The only way the Benghazi scandal would make sense would be if Obama enjoyed Americans dying, something fanatics are willing to believe of him. Search the internet and you will find the wildest and most ridiculous of conspiracy theories (because this is what Benghazi is turning into) accusing Obama of all sorts of crimes. I even came across one guy who claimed that Obama watched the attack live and refused to send in troops available next door.
It seems every time you turn on Fox News there is a new “scandal” or outrage. Yet every time you dig into them, there is little left standing. Conservatives repeatedly reference Solyndra, Fast and Furious and Benghazi as examples of the malice and incompetence of Obama. But as I have shown these are only scandals in the minds of fanatics who only want to see bad. That these fake scandals are endorsed and supported by prominent Republicans (including past and future Presidential candidates) is an example of the worrying state of American politics.