Posted on | May 19, 2013 | 13 Comments
“It looks like they’ve lost Bob Schieffer,” says John Hoge, which might be a slight exaggeration. Schieffer is a liberal, but he’s also a veteran Washington journalist who has seen enough scandals to know what a scandal looks like, and he was having none of the Jedi mind trick — “These are not the scandals you were looking for. Move along.” — from Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer today. Right off the bat, Pfeiffer tried to cast the argument in partisan terms, which every scandal-plagued politician does, claiming that any suggestion of wrongdoing is a manufactured artifice, the creation of one’s political opponents:
“[T]he Republican playbook here . . . they don’t have a positive agenda, try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings and false allegations.”
Schieffer was highly dubious of this excuse, and reminded Pfeiffer of how familiar his excuse-making sounded:
I don’t want to compare this in anyway to Watergate. I do not think this is Watergate by any stretch. But you weren’t born then, I would guess, but I have to tell you that is exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took. They said these are all second-rate things. We don’t have time for this. We have to devote our time to the people’s business. You are taking exactly the same line that they did.
Exactly right. Bob Schieffer was born in 1937, he was working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the day JFK was shot, and he’s not likely to be impressed by a 37-year-old “senior advisor.” And when it came to Benghazi, Schieffer didn’t let Pfeiffer bulldoze him:
The bottom line is what [Susan Rice] told the American people [Sept. 16] bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed. . . .
[T]hat was just PR, that was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if you knew nothing say we don’t know yet? Why didn’t White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this is no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?
Pfieffer didn’t have a good answer for that. In fact, Pfeiffer had no answers for any real questions at all Sunday. Pfieffer tried to use the “doctored e-mails” distraction that Jazz Shaw discusses at some length, and which doesn’t have any bearing on the real issues about the Benghazi attack, which can be summarized simply: If the administration had nothing to hide, why were they lying?
One can agree with Schieffer that this isn’t Watergate “by any stretch” and still be curious about why, if everything was on the up and up, the administration was acting so shady. And why did Pfeiffer refuse to say where Obama was during the Benghazi attack?
Schieffer gave a little lecture later on Face the Nation about the IRS scandal that’s worth quoting in its entirety:
You heard Dan Pfeiffer earlier in the broadcast say that he wasn’t born when Watergate happened. Well, it will come as no news to anyone that I was. And when the burglars broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate, a lot of us back then found it hard to believe. Why would anyone break in to a political headquarters? What did they hope to find–bumper stickers? Yard signs? Nobody is dumb enough to pull a stunt like that. But they were. I admit I had about the same reaction when I first heard the IRS had gone after the Tea Party last year, the Tea Party? Surely no one could be dumb enough to think you could get away with something like that in an election year. But they were. So welcome to dumb and dumber. It did take a while for the news to get to some quarters. We heard that the President say that he didn’t find out about it until last week, last week, which qualified him for Washington’s fastest growing club, the longer and longer list of officials who suddenly don’t know much about a lot of unpleasant things from Benghazi to the Associated Press investigation. At this point, just spare me the talking points and the excuses. No matter whether Republicans or Democrats are doing this kind of thing, this stuff is not just wrong it’s really stupid. And it will take more than firing a few temps and low-level bureaucrats to fix it. The President won reelection with a smart political team, but the election is over. Maybe he should look now for people of substance who know about other things who could help him govern.
As they say in Texas: Hell to the yes, Bob.