The trifecta of scandals currently coursing its way through the Obama administration could end up causing as much damage to the Republican Party as the Democrats. Tea Party Republicans in particular are salivating at the opportunity to use the confluence of scandals to prove once and for all that Obama is nothing more than a Chicago gangster with an Ivy League education. By pursuing that goal to the detriment of bipartisan politics and intra-party harmony they run the risk of paralyzing the country for the next 18 months.
The IRS scandal destroys the public trust in the government’s role of independent revenue collector. The Department of Justice/AP scandal assails the fourth estate and the Benghazi affair insults the hearts, mind, and soul of every patriotic American.
You would think that it would make for the perfect opportunity for some good old fashioned bipartisan investigations. But that is not what is going to happen. Overzealous Republicans are not going to be satisfied unless they can tie every scandal back to the White House and make political hay out of it.
The first casualty of this misguided attempt to seek political gain, rather than fair and just resolution is going to be immigration reform. With three scandals hanging over his head the Tea Party Republicans cannot afford to give Obama a win before 2014. Good and bad legislation accrues to the person in the oval office. And if history records that Obama achieved comprehensive immigration reform then he'll go down as achieving two things that every president in the last 30 years have been after — universal health care and immigration reform. The president's success often accrues to the party, so that is just another reason why immigration reform and probably any other kind of meaningful legislation is effectively off the table.
The problem with this strategy is it is going to destroy the already shaky Republican outreach plan to Hispanics. Democrats will point to the Republicans as being the party that refuses to negotiate on gay rights and immigration. The Hispanic community and the gay community will rally to the Democrats. In the meantime, red state Democrats will be able to point to support of the investigation of the IRS and the Justice Department to give them some distance from the Obama administration.
Tea Party conservatives were the group targeted by the IRS and they are going to want their pound of flesh. Against the best advice of establishment types like Reince Priebus, Charles Krauthammer, Newt Gingrich, Bill Kristol, and John McCain, the Tea Party types are likely to keep up the hyperbolic comparisons to scandals from the past. The more they bring up Watergate and Iran-Contra the more we will be reminded that Nixon and Reagan were Republicans. The more they talk about the hubris of Obama’s Benghazi cover-up the more we'll be reminded that the phrase "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is forever emblazoned in our minds due to two Republican Bush Administrations. And every time they bring up lax embassy security we will be reminded of Beirut under Reagan and the 13 embassy attacks under Bush.
The Tea Party types will also probably not heed the sound, experienced recommendations of the establishment because they want their jobs. It is no secret that there is an internal war going on in the party and due to gerrymandering the only congressional competition in a Republican district is intra-party. With 2014, on the horizon the Tea Party Republicans are not going to miss an opportunity to oust some establishment types ... especially once it comes out that some establishment Republicans more than likely sat on the IRS information during the 2012 cycle.
As more information is revealed the further away the White House is getting from these scandals. The IRS Inspector General report makes no mention of White House involvement. The recently released Benghazi emails shows that the CIA, not the White House, had the heavy hand in crafting the talking points memo.
As the White House gets closer to being exonerated of any politically-motivated cover-up, it is likely that the Tea Party types will turn up the hyperbole and get even more obstinate in their determination not to do anything that could be construed as an Obama victory.
That attitude is going to cost the Republican Party and the country dearly.