Another excellent Ron Fournier piece from National Journal on the interesection of the IRS and Benghazi stories late last week:
When two storms collide, the weather gets hairy. For President Obama, the IRS and Benghazi stories converged this weekend for a self-inflicted tempest that threatens his credibility.
His people can't get their stories straight.
Internal Revenue Service officials denied for months the targeting of conservative political groups for reviews of their tax exempt status. With investigators poised to expose the chilling operation, a high-ranking IRS official acknowledged it late last week and apologized for it.
The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware. That appears to be untrue. The Associated Press reported Saturday that senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report.
Politicizing the IRS threatens the integrity of an agency entrusted with Americans' secrets and the taxes that fund government. It also fuels the paranoia of conspiracy theorists.
"This is outrageous," said Democratic consultant Chris Kofinis. "The administration and the president need to condem this and act immediately. This is not a right-left issue."
Several other Democratic allies of the White House expressed similiar sentiments while refusing to be named out of fear of retribution. Kofinis, who specializes in political communications, said White House needs to explain itself. "Your first response can't be to say the IRS is an independent agency," a claim the White House has made, he said.
On Benghazi, the president's U.N. ambassador said five days after the Libya attack that the incident grew out of a street protest rather than a terrorist attack. Caught fudging the facts in the middle of a presidential campaign, a race in which Obama's anti-terrorism record was a major selling point, the White House blamed Ambassador Susan Rice's statement on "talking points" concocted by the CIA in virtual isolation.
Obama's team stuck with that story until the truth was exposed amid a GOP congressional investigation. Emails leaked to news organizations last week show that both the White House and State Department were directly involved in scrubbing the CIA talking points of any mention of past threats and al-Qaida involvement. That is the exact opposite of what the Obama White House had claimed.
Inexplicably, White House spokesman Jay Carney refused late Friday to acknowledge the contradiction.
Fournier is by no means the only national political reporter who is conflating the IRS and Benghazi scandals. But the former McCain campaign aide is well respected in Washington, having worked for AP for a number of years and may be the most prominent mainstream media figure to correctly identify Obama's major problem where the two scandals intersect.
No one believes what this administration is saying anymoire except some die hard Obamabots who are laying low following the IRS revelations. Everyone understands the significance of the IRS matter and it makes the Benghazi narrative that emerged from the hearings seem that much more plausible.
It may be that we will will get to a point where you can't mention one scandal without talking about the other. Both reveal Obama to be duplicitous and arrogant - a combination the press is just beginning to expose.