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Opinion: Columnists

Noemie Emery: Plenty of 'there' there in trio of Obama scandals

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Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Barack Obama

If two's company and three is a crowd, three is a torment for President Obama, as in the trio of scandals that blossomed together and gave him a nosegay of woes.

They were comprehensive, spanning foreign and domestic policy issues; synergetic, in that they fed on each other; and self-reinforcing, as they hit similar themes of suppression, oppression, political meddling by government agencies, and the intent to deceive.

Far from having no "there" there, some may have several, and each has a kicker, a particular kink that points to collateral damage and may twist the knife even more.

Benghazi is the only one of the three that may not involve criminal or unconstitutional doings: on the other hand, it's the one in which four people died.

So there are three different "theres" to be looked at: First, embassy personnel asked for help months before the attacks, and none was forthcoming; second, personnel pleaded for help while they were under attack, and none was provided; and three, the administration then lied for one week about how the riots were started to bury the truth for political reasons and shield Obama (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) from blame.

The kicker is that while this is bad news for Obama, it is even worse news for Clinton, whose reputation for competence and veracity is taking a beating, and who is facing charges from the parents of one of the victims that she helped cause the death of their son.

This will not help her if and when she is running for president, and attempts to shift blame could set off a war between Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, which would do them and their party no good.

As there are three "theres" in Benghazi, there are two in the IRS scandal, one by thwarting the efforts of Tea Party groups to organize themselves as tax-exempt bodies; and one by doing it in the time-honored fashion of auditing and harassing the people who fund them, thus compromising their rights of speech and assembly, and tying the "dirty tricks" and the IRS strands of the Watergate scandals together in one tidy bow.

The kicker here is that it's the Internal Revenue Service that's supposed to administer Obamacare, if and when it gets going. This will make implementation still more problematic. Will it help sink it? We'll see.

And there are also two facets to the media scandal, one being the seizure of records of more than 100 Associated Press reporters as part of a war against leaks, which Len Downie of the Washington Post called "especially chilling" because it was an attempt to cut journalists off from their sources and the worst threat to press freedom since Watergate days.

The other that the special attack on Fox News reporter James Rosen ties into the effort, now four years old, to isolate, stigmatize, marginalize and take down his cable news network, the one that has challenged Obama since his first days in power and kept the Benghazi story alive.

But the kicker here is that this has threatened, alarmed and angered the press, which has come alive for the first time since Obama took office. The result is that his goodwill has dried up just when he most needs it to help ignore or to bury the other two scandals, or else to explain them away.

For Republicans, this means that the run of luck Obama has been on since 2004 may be finally breaking. For Democrats, it's the gift that keeps taking away.

Washington Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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Noemie Emery

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