Don't the American People deserve better scandals?
The scandal or "gate" industry, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, needs a Chief Scandal Officer or CSO. There are simply too many scandals being marketed at once and within each scandal, too many explanations for why the very fabric of our nation is at risk and why an outraged public should take to the streets in armed rebellion.
Since the fall of the Nixon Administration, Republicans have attacked Democratic administrations by appending "gate" to the first two-syllable word they can find. While this tradition (started by language columnist/Republican apologist William Safire long ago) was carried on admirably by the GOP's finest through the Clinton years, it has now matured to point where it deserves professional C-level management
Yes, we need a strong manager and unifier to fully derail the legislative process and bring the nation to the screeching halt we all desire.
But who? John Boehner is busy. Reince Priebus has serious name issues. Empty vessels like Hannity and Palin can't construct an argument worthy of selling a miracle cleaning product on late night TV, much less lead a legally sound attack.
My pitch: Washington Post columnist and on-air curmudgeon, Charles Krauthammer. He has the zeal, single-mindedness and disregard for pesky facts that the job requires, but is capable of producing the solid illusion of logic.
Okay, Charles, let's strategize. The original gate -- Watergate -- was a rousing success for three good reasons. 1. Novelty. It was the first gate and a sitting president actually hired bumbling burglars -- a creative leap that seems fresh to this day. 2. Substance. Massive evidence confirmed the President had broken laws, used the apparatus of state to destroy enemies, and was, best of all, a vulgar, paranoid kook. 3. Clarity. Watergate was about one thing: the president hired burglars to make sure he got reelected. All the rest was just exposing the creepy crawly things that writhed beneath the same rock.
With the phrase "worse than Watergate" being uttered on Fox News more often than their slogan, the novelty card can no more be reclaimed than lost virginity. As to the required substance, the present scandals don't offer thugs in ski masks or plans to murder journalists, but if the right skilled hands can shape and market the story, there is a reasonable starter dough for a nice Gate. So let's move on to clarity, which first requires us to pick the most promising scandal.
To illustrate just how important clarity is to a successful Gate, let's recall the Clinton years. Travel-gate, Nanny-gate, Whitewater-(gate), Foster-gate, and finally soiled-dress-gate. Why did nothing stick? A lack of clarity about the source of outrage. Was Clinton guilty of adultery? Perjury? Poor taste in women? Inadequate use of dry cleaning? His resulting punishment? A second term. Rough justice, yes. Impeachment, no.
So Charles, let's get this right. First of all, you can't expect the press to have a clean feeding frenzy over three scandals at once. One story, twenty-four hours of news. That's how it works. We didn't do OJ and Jennifer Arias at the same time. Let's focus on one Gate and gin up the best darn scandal we can.
Benghazi-Gate is a muddle. Was the embassy neglected? Was the word "terrorism" not used early and often? Were talking points edited? Was it a cover-up, and if so of what? Doesn't matter -- at this point, most Americans are on their iPhones forwarding a Vine of Grandma dancing to Macklemore. Fail!
AP-gate can stir outrage in all of us, sure. But the country is schizophrenic about protecting the nation at any cost while preserving our civil liberties. Both Obama and Bush before him have cut every corner in town in the name of national security, so when this issue reveals its complexity, Americans start to yawn and flip to Family Guy.
No, Charles, the only bet is IRS-Gate. Everybody already hates the IRS. Okay, so additional scrutiny for Republican-leaning 501( c)4s didn't result in denying any such group tax exempt status and no particular person broke any existing law. But using IRS powers in a partisan fashion is chilling indeed. And if you are trying to bring down a president, a corrupt IRS is way better start than, say, extramarital sex, which only impacts the public's shared stake in the White House upholstery.
Now, in the interest of further clarity, we must determine how to frame this scandal most effectively. Let us look for inspiration in the original gate. Apologists explain that Nixon was a patriot, who was using extraordinary means to stay in office, only because he knew what was best to save the country from evil at home and abroad. Thus the ends justified the means. Liberals simply overreacted to a few presidential peccadilloes.
So let's think of IRS-Gate as the opposite of Watergate, because in this case, the ends are sinister. After all, Obama is a Muslim Socialist from Kenya whose goal as president is to undermine the constitution and decimate America's position in the world. Thus, any means Obama uses, no matter how benign or lacking in criminality, are by definition subversive and must be thwarted to preserve the nation. Impeachment is the only appropriate reaction.
Oh Charles, reluctant hero, herd the team back into formation. The GOP used to be the envy of all Democrats, who could more easily breed unicorns than find party unity. It's time to double down on one good scandal and finally send that Kenyan-Muslim-socialists back to Africa, or Mecca, or Venezuela, or -- wherever. (Yet another clarity issue!)