Monday, May 20, 2013

Scandal-mania vs. Reality

Last week was supposed to be a devastating one for President Obama. After all, he was swept into Scandal-mania. And that's why his poll numbers are... Wait, they're improving?! Really?!

Here's one place where the president didn't have a dramatic week: in his approval ratings. According to two polls — the Gallup daily tracking poll, and a CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday — Obama's approval rating has more or less remained steady as potential scandal upon potential scandal blew up the news cycle.

First, here's CNN's poll, conducted over May 17-18. According to their survey, Obama's approval rating is at 53 percent. While that's a two percent rise since early April, the difference is within the margin of error of the survey, so we'll say that the president's approval rating here remained steady. Forty-five percent of Americans, meanwhile, disapprove of the job the president's doing.

Gallup's results are similar. Right now, the president is registering a 50 percent approval rating, with a slight increase over the course of Scandal Week that's within the survey's margin of error.

But wait, isn't the President mired in all that scandal? How could this be? Could it be...

The fact that Republicans are more interested in chasing imaginary Obama scandals than doing something about climate change isn’t a coincidence. The right’s talking points on climate change came directly from the fossil fuels industry. In 1991, The New York Times reported, “Coal-burning utility companies and coal producers, disturbed by public acceptance of the idea that burning fossil fuels will change the climate, are deciding whether to go national this fall with an ad campaign they tried in three markets earlier this year…The goal of the campaign, according to one planning document, is to “reposition global warming as theory” and not fact.”

The debate over climate change isn’t really about science. For Republicans, and the special interests who fund them, the climate change issue is all about money, and maintaining our dependence on fossil fuels. From 2002-2010, conservative billionaires spent $120 million to fund a network of more than 100 climate change denial organizations. The purpose of the effort is to deny the human role in climate change, and to oppose environmental regulations.

The air is dirty because Republicans are taking dirty (dark) money. Until people connect the dots, and demand that special interest money be removed from our politics, our planet will continue to die. The Obama scandals are a smokescreen to cover up the fact that Republicans would rather destroy the planet to enrich the few.

Perhaps Americans are seeing that there are far more important matters than this media feeding frenzy G-O-TEA fishing expedition slew of scandals. Perhaps they're seeing real scandals that have yet to be solved. Perhaps they're seeing the dangerous climate and painful austerity regime as the real scandals deserving of actual action.

Yet while the real scandals continue to threaten our people, 21st Century Know Nothings in Congress and their media cheerleaders continue hawking the haute faux scandals. Why? Well, it's a much "sexier" story than endless G-O-TEA obstruction of any & all attempts at progress in Congress.

The phony scandals Republicans will spend the next few months on shine a light on their inaction and not, as they hope, the President’s alleged scandal-ridden Administration. The alleged cover-up of the tragedy in Benghazi shifts attention from Republicans’ refusing to appropriate more funding for security at embassies despite requests from the State Department, and media is remiss to ever point out that Republicans never investigated or charged the Bush administration for lax security during several embassy attacks around the world during Bush’s tenure as president. However, Bush was a white man, and that fact alone gives Republicans cover for ignoring the danger inherent in Bush’s cowboy diplomacy that put “brave American heroes’” lives in jeopardy. Still, after eight months of Republicans’ transparent obstruction and blatantly dishonesty inherent in their Benghazi investigations, it is painfully obvious they refuse to accept the truth or disclosures they demanded, and received as the White House released nearly 100 pages of emails and documentation answering their questions. Their persistent investigations, hearings, and threats of new investigations are deliberate tactics to avoid governing and obstruct the President from continuing the nation’s economic recovery.

Republicans tasked car thief and House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa with holding investigations into the alleged Benghazi scandal and phony outrage involving I.R.S. investigators who did their due diligence in scrutinizing political activists’ illegal applications for 501(C)(4) “social welfare” tax exemption, instead of investigating Karl Rove and Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity’s illegal applications meant to conceal their dark money donors. The idea that the President, or anyone in his administration ordered the IRS to target conservative groups is insane on its face, especially since it was George W. Bush’s appointee that ran the IRS. Subsequently, while Republicans are busy attempting to tie the White House and the President to using the I.R.S. to steal the 2012 election, they conveniently will avoid spending one minute on job creation or admitting new revenue from the fiscal cliff tax increases are bringing the nation’s debt down by $231 billion in a very short period of time.

Oh, yes. That's right. Whatever happened to what was originally supposed to be "THE (Original) GREAT OBAMA SCANDAL!!!" of ballooning debt and exploding deficits? It turns out that President Obama has presided over an incredibly shrinking federal budget deficit. Oh, and his new budget plan will actually cut the budget deficit even further if enacted.

Since that hasn't turned out well for Republicans (while turning out quite well for the US Treasury), they decided to shift focus. And that's why they're now obsessed with the new haute faux scandals. Yet while they're driven to relive 1990s style politics of personal destruction, Americans are more concerned about real policy problems.

So when will The Beltway finally look past the nonsensical Scandal-mania and notice reality?

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