President Obama could be losing trust
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:38 AM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Obama Administration is in the middle now of what some people refer to as a perfect storm of scandal.
Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's not something that can be written off lightly, because at its very heart is the question of whether the President is losing the public's trust.
I don't for a moment believe the internet rumors that the Obama administration is trying to buy up all the ammunition so gun owners can't find any for themselves.
But there are those who do...and that in itself has been an enormously effective sales tool for those who make and sell bullets. And guns for that matter.
Nor do I believe, for example, former Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann—who claims that Obamacare is part of a plot to deny medical care to conservatives.
I do believe she's an ill-informed nutcase with a history of saying outrageous stuff. But there are people who believe she speaks the truth.
And, now, by playing loose with facts and the Constitution on three fronts, the Obama administration is playing into the hands of his political detractors, of conspiracy freaks everywhere, and in the process putting public trust on the line.
Last September, the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
It was blamed at the time on an inflammatory YouTube video that caused a spontaneous riot that resulted in the attack. Now its becoming clear that back then, with less than two months to go until the Presidential election, the information was doctored to hide that it was, in fact, an organized attack by Al-Qaida.
Why make such an effort?
So the theory goes, Obama had all but vanquished Al-Qaida, and it would have looked bad politically to suggest Al-Qaida was still a viable terrorist outfit.
A week or so ago, we learned the IRS has been scrutinizing the not-for-profit status applications of groups thought to be opposed to the so-called Obama agenda.
If an organization had "tea party" or "patriot" in its title, it got worked over.
Now, one can easily make the argument that right-wing organizations are probably not going to spend more that half of their super-PAC money on civic enterprise.
Rather, one might suspect they are instead manipulating the tax code to hide the names of those who give them money and avoid paying taxes.
But to target them for scrutiny because of their political leanings is illegal. Simple as that.
A week after an IRS official admitted it happened, and even apologized for it, the President was grimly proclaiming that "if" the charges were true, the perpetrators would be severely dealt with.
It made him look clueless. Maybe he was.
And now we learn that Obama's Department of Justice, ignored existing law by seizing phone records of a wide number of Associated Press reporters in its year-long search for someone in the administration who leaked accurate information about a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen in May of last year.
It was upsetting to the government because only days before, the administration was claiming the plot never existed.
Here's why what the D.O.J. did matters: reporters have relied on confidential sources to gather information for stories that the public has a right to know.
Sometimes the process has been abused, but mostly its not.
For a quick and easy example, think Watergate. If a well-meaning source believes a reporter can no longer guarantee his confidentiality, because of massive government raids on phone records—the source goes back into silence.
Attorney General Eric Holder—the President's appointed man who runs the Department of Justice—told the house judiciary committee yesterday that he knew almost nothing about it, and that what he did know he couldn't talk about because he had recused himself from the entire matter.
Why didn't he follow the law? He didn't know. When did he recuse himself? He wasn't sure. Did he put it in writing? He couldn't remember. And so it went. The Attorney General who often knows nothing.
These scandals aren't going to go away soon. Each one of them is a nicely wrapped gift from the president to his political enemies. And they'll run with 'em for as long as they can.
When he was elected going on five years ago, President Obama promised that his would be the most transparent administration in history. And much to the dismay of a lot of people who voted for him, it's not turning out that way.
He's had something of a free pass, so far. It's time to revoke it.
In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.