© Josh Sager – January 2015
Over the past seven years, the conservative movement has latched onto a series of “scandals” involving the Obama Administration. These scandals have almost universally been blown out of proportion, if not completely fabricated in order to serve a partisan political narrative.
Just to name a few such examples: When Obama first entered office, the GOP championed the “birther” controversy (completely false), then latched onto the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal (a forced error started by the Bush Administration), followed by the IRS “taxgate” scandal (now proven completely baseless), and then the Benghazi attack.
Ironically, the innumerable manufactured scandals of the right wing have very effectively covered up several real scandals by the Obama Administration—these include the decisions not to prosecute any of the bankers who wrecked the world economy or torturers who wrecked our nation’s world standing, and to assassinate Americans via drone without giving them a trial.
The sheer volume and scope of these manufactured scandals are unprecedented in modern American politics and represent a complete severance between portion of the right wing and reality itself. Additionally, they indicate a failure of the media in its duty to fact-check our politicians and act as a tool of accountability.
Given the totality of these scandals, I have two basic conclusions about the right wing outrage machine:
- The right wing will call almost anything that Obama does a “scandal,” regardless of the objective facts or even their prior positions—even if he does something that they once supported (ex. passing the ACA) or has been common in American history (ex. executive orders), they will call his actions outrageous and evil.
- It is impossible to completely debunk a scandal once it has been created, as a certain portion of the country will refuse to accept even basic facts—at best, scandals can be beaten back into the realm of the right wing media or eclipsed by an even more recent “scandal.”
These two characteristic of the right wing outrage machine have turned it into an unfalsifiable series of “choose your scandal” choices by the Obama Administration. Regardless of what the Obama administration does, the right wing will spin it into a scandal that echoes in the right wing media for several weeks until the next scandal occupies their attention.
For example: If the Obama administration decides to take executive action on a serious problem facing the country (ex. immigration), then the Republican outrage machine will call him an “imperial president” who is destroying the Constitution and attacking the fundamentals of American democracy. Alternately, if Obama refuses to take action on that very same issue and, instead, waits for the Republican Congress to weigh in, then the Republican outrage machine will call him “weak,” accuse him of “leading from behind,” and say that he has no ideas.
Apparently, Drudge thinks that Obama is an effeminate weakling who isn’t tough enough to be president….
….unless he is going “street” on somebody (a deafeningly loud racial dogwhistle if I ever heard one) and displaying vicious authoritarian toughness.
Because the American people, in aggregate, are horrifyingly ignorant about reality (Case in Point: 42% of the American people are young earth creationists, while 26% don’t know what nation we gained our independence from after the Revolutionary War), and the media has fallen down on the job, the Republicans have gotten away with this tactic. Their lies clutter up the business of government, waste millions in specious investigations, and foment anger in the extreme right wing base that has sometimes exploded into violence (ex. militia/sovereign citizen movement terrorist attacks).
Until the media decides to do its job or the American people simply hits its scandal overload point and stops taking the right wing seriously, I am extremely pessimistic about our nation’s political environment. The endless stream of Obama “scandals” will likely transition into an endless stream of Hillary “scandals” and rational people will continue to spend tedious hours debunking nonsensical accusations by partisan lunatics. Finally, real scandals will be ignored in the tsunami of false scandals, and the American people will continue to suffer the consequences of our collective ignorance/inaction.