The age of scandal

Washington seems more embroiled than ever in wrongdoing

David G. Brown, we want you to know you’re not the problem.


The Augusta reader told us in a letter to the editor that, “I am getting older and having a harder time keeping track of things. One of the things I am having trouble with is all the scandals in Washington” (“Scandals tough to follow,” June 29).

You sound perfectly fine to us, Mr. Brown. Fact is, we’d venture to say the problem isn’t your age, but the age we live in.

There do seem to be an inordinate amount of scandals in D.C. these days, and we’ve got some ideas about why. We’ve also some thoughts about why they’re so hard to keep track of.

First off, why are there so many scandals right now?

There’s the Benghazi scandal, which is actually several outrages rolled into one. The Obama administration left our consulate in the dangerous Libyan city unforgivably vulnerable – and, perhaps inevitably, on Sept. 11 last, radical Muslims attacked it and killed four Americans, including our ambassador.

Then, adding outrage upon outrage, someone in the administration – incredibly, we still don’t know who, and the media seem uninterested – fabricated a hoax story to tell the American public: that the attack was a spontaneous outgrowth of a street protest in Benghazi over an anti-Muhammad video an American had put on the Internet. They sent then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice onto the Sunday morning talk shows to spread the lie. They even went so far as to have the video’s producer arrested.

The truth: There was never any protest. It was a concocted fable

that covered up the premeditated al-Qaida-linked raid – which might have embarrassed the Obama administration to have to admit to, just before the presidential election.

To this point, no one has been held accountable for the lies or the lack of security. There are also allegations that military rescue crews might have been available to respond that night, but that someone told them to stand down.

Nor do we know what our commander in chief was doing during the some seven-hour attack, which administration officials monitored in real time.

Then there’s the infamous IRS assault on conservative groups; the National Security Agency spying on Americans; the Department of Justice spying on journalists; and, from way back, the “Fast and Furious” scandal in which the Justice Department purposely allowed high-powered weapons to “walk” into Mexico, where they were used to kill untold numbers of people including U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Why so much wrongdoing at one time? There are a number of possible explanations.

First, the Obama administration appears obsessed with centralizing and cementing power – not just for itself, but for Democrats in general. It seems to be driven by a desire to create a permanent ruling Democrat caliphate – thus, for instance, the sudden urgency to legalize millions of illegal immigrants, 80 percent of whom are projected by polls to be Democrat voters.

When you want power, you go after information, and that lust might be behind some of the spying and lying.

Another contributing factor is that the ruling elite in Washington are imperious, impervious and out of touch. They do a horrible job of checking the excesses of either the executive branch or the entrenched bureaucracy.

That’s why you can have an IRS that is trying to rig the political debate while wasting millions on
lavish conferences – and then returning to Congress to ask for more.

In addition, the ongoing scandals may be exacerbated and even encouraged by the public’s own inability to keep up with it all – as well as a cynical administration’s thinly-veiled strategy to stonewall, obfuscate, take the Fifth, hide behind executive privilege, and just wait till we’re done squawking and then keep on keeping on when we move on.

The news cycle is manic these days, particularly when we’ve got so many pop-up wrongdoings to keep track of along with the more organic news of the day. This administration no doubt is counting on our mass ADHD to run the clock out and avoid accountability. They know we’re being overwhelmed, and they’re only too happy to watch us drown in a swirling pool of information.

It’s the paradox of our times, too, that we’ve never been more wired yet less connected: There have never been more sources of information, or platforms to receive it on – and yet, video interview after video interview shows Americans on the street unacquainted with the most elementary bits and pieces of current events.

Mr. Brown, your age is not the problem. Ours is. Somewhere along the line, we transitioned from the Information Age to the Overload Age.

What – you didn’t get the text alert?