Media: Obama Down But Not Out

“Obama’s presidency was declared dead by the press on Tuesday.” So writes Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic Wire, providing as evidence a quote from a Politico piece by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen: “The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.”

Reeve imputes a level of pessimism to the quote that doesn’t inhere in it. But then she turns around and evinces a degree of optimism that isn’t warranted either, telling readers the Obama presidency “is being declared alive after all on Thursday.”

Again, she returns to Politico for support, this time quoting a solo Mike Allen, who writes: “After suffering hits from Beltway elites for missteps in handling ‘the perfect storm’ of controversies, the West Wing got its mojo back … with the resignation of the acting IRS Commissioner, release of Benghazi emails.”

She also favors readers with reassurances by Jennifer Epstein, also of Politico, and Agence France Press’s Stephen Collinson. Both observe that the president has seized control of the situation and sprung into action.

So is Obama out of the woods? Can his diehard acolytes exhale at last? Some hundred pages of emails released by the White House under pressure late Wednesday suggest the answer to both questions is a resounding no.

Fox News reports:

State Department officials repeatedly objected to — and tried to water down — references to Islamic extremist groups and prior security warnings in the administration’s initial internal story-line on the Benghazi attack.

The documents also showed the White House, along with several other departments, played a role in editing the so-called ‘talking points,’ despite claims from the White House that it was barely involved. And they showed then-CIA Director David Petraeus objected to the watered-down version that would ultimately be used as the basis for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s flawed comments on several TV shows the Sunday after the attack.

"Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this,’"Petraeus told his deputy in a Sept. 15 email.


But — all the president’s men will argue — these damning emails apply only to Benghazigate. At least Obama has the other two crises under control, right?

Assuming that the administration's reaction to the Benghazi raid and doctored talking points aren’t enough to sink it, let’s examine the state of the IRS and AP brouhahas.

The president delivered a pointless 15-minute statement to the press yesterday and promised to take questions from them today. In the meantime, the number of groups targeted continues to grow, and the rationale by the IRS for scrutinizing tea partiers has been debunked by nonprofit application data.

How this resolves itself remains to be seen. But the question lurking just beneath the surface is whether Obama, who has attempted repeatedly to suppress criticism leveled at him, had a hand in the IRS’s orders.

And what of the AP scandal? Attorney General Eric Holder, wilting under pressure during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, lost his temper and told Republican Rep. Darrell Issa:

That is inappropriate and is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It’s unacceptable and it’s shameful.

Always a good idea when your house is on fire to call the firefighters names.