This morning, Mike and Mike talked sports on ESPN Radio. That’s usually no surprise. But they weren’t talking sports on the morning of April 16, choosing instead to talk about the Boston Marathon bombing. While that was marginally a sports story, that’s not the type of coverage they lent to the subject.
This morning, the news in DC tells us to expect up to 91 fatalities in Oklahoma after yesterday’s tornadoes, and half of those may be children. And then it moves on to the next story, about the IRS or the Department of Justice or whichever scandal is having its turn.
This isn’t meant to compare events, or claim East Coast bias, or anything like that. Realities like the tornadoes in Oklahoma are difficult for our head to process and almost impossible for our hearts to handle. Events like the Boston bombing – and like September 11, or the shooting sprees in Newtown, Blacksburg, and Aurora – are, in a way, easier to deal with. In those situations, there is a defined bad guy – a terrorist or a lunatic – so the pain can be focused as outrage and anger. On one side is our concept of normalcy, on the other side are motives driven by evil. Very simple.
But what motive does a tornado have? Or a hurricane? Or a meteor the size of Texas?
Ours is a dangerous world – a fact which makes our lives, and those around us, very fragile.
Jay Carney faced the press today, and… Yikes! That was rough!
On some level, you have to respect Carney. He could have woken up, faxed in a resignation Pat Riley style, rented an office near Farragut Square and started counting money. Instead, he chose to answer questions in the face of Scandalpalooza. And even if he had a rough day, none of the scandals are impeachable.
They are damaging, though. In fact, the last week and a half has heaped layer after layer of bad news on the White House doorstep. The mid-term elections are now 18 months away, and the window for putting up any meaningful legislative wins is maybe 10-12 months. President will have a tougher time advancing his agenda while responding to all the bad news. Ranked below are the President’s top speed bumps (that we know about so far today), with 1 being the most disruptive to the President’s agenda and 5 the least:
- DOJ vs. AP - People appreciate unfairness, so the IRS scandal will have legs. But no reporter will have any trouble understanding the First Amendment threats posed by the Justice Department skimming reporters’ phone records.
- IRS vs. Tea Party Groups – Political players wielding government power against their enemies is easy to understand, and makes for a simple story to write.
- Benghazi – Really, what’s the worst part? The administration’s keystone response to the embassy attack? The lies about what caused the attack? The fact that it looks like the President and his underlings were less than forthcoming due to the impending election? This is pretty complex – for scandals looking to catch on, complex is bad.
- Gosnell - During the election cycle, progressive groups tried (largely successfully) to reframe the abortion debate by talking about narrow hypotheticals. From the White House’s perspective, the silver lining of the week’s tri-scandals is that it takes mainstream attention away from the Gosnell verdict. It will help motivate pro-life advocates, but its broader messaging implications will be muted.
- Obamacare - Small business owners are already feeling the pinch. Kathleen Sebelius has been doing her “Secretary BoJangles” routine trying to fund advertising and encourage signups (like it’s some kind of high school club).
(If I missed anything, or if you disagree, leave a comment or yell at me on Twitter.)
Last Sunday, President Obama addressed Ohio State’s Class of 2013 thusly:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.
Cool speech, wasn’t it? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the big headlines over the last week:
- The Administration messed up in Benghazi – and ABC news showed they directly lied to the American people about the root cause of the attack.
- The IRS specifically and deliberately targeted the President’s political foes during the 2012 election cycle.
- The Obama Justice Department snagged phone records – both professional and personal – for AP reporters. They didn’t say why.