The “Scandals” Go Up In Smoke

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There was always something desperate about them: an attempt somehow, after five years of remarkably scandal-free governance, to try once again and prove Michelle Malkin’s fantasies (and Peggy Noonan’s feelings) correct. Darrell Issa was the perfect charlatan for the purpose; and Roger Ailes desperately needed a new narrative in the post-election doldrums. But there really was no there there … and you can feel the air escaping from the hysteria balloons. Chait marks the end of this strange interlude of Republicans’ creating reality and failing:

The IRS inspector general is defending its probe, but the IRS’s flagging of conservative groups seems, at worst, to be marginally stricter than its flagging of liberal groups, not the one-sided political witch hunt portrayed by early reports.

What about the rest of the scandals? Well, there aren’t any, and there never were. Benghazi is a case of a bunch of confused agencies caught up in a fast-moving story trying to coordinate talking points. The ever-shifting third leg of the Obama scandal trifecta — Obama’s prosecution of leaks, or use of the National Security Agency — is not a scandal at all. It’s a policy controversy. One can argue that Obama’s policy stance is wrong, or dangerous, or a threat to democracy. But when the president is carrying out duly passed laws and acting at every stage with judicial approval, then the issue is the laws themselves, not misconduct.

The whole Obama scandal episode is a classic creation of a “narrative” — the stitching together of unrelated data points into a story.

(Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)