Political Animal


May 13, 2013 5:17 PM A Reminder

By Ed Kilgore

At the end of a column in which she discusses the parallels between the Scandal Politics of the Clinton Era with what is rapidly becoming the Scandal Politics of the Obama Era, National Journal’s Jill Lawrence issues this simple reminder:

Shortly after the September 1998 release of the Starr report (with its graphic sexual references and 11 proposed articles of impeachment), and before they went on to impeach and try Clinton, Republicans contradicted historical patterns by losing House seats. The public, it turned out, was tired of scandal, investigations, and conflict. Obama can only hope the same dynamic plays out in 2014.

I don’t get the sense, though Lawrence quotes a few, that too many Republicans are thinking there’s a downside to going scandal-crazy. If anything, going into a “base-dominated” midterm election with a party that refuses to get anything done in Congress requiring compromise and that isn’t real flush with policy ideas, Republicans are going to be sorely tempted not to talk about anything but scandals (and perhaps Obamacare, which they are already treating as a “scandal” in itself) for the next year-and-a-half.

So for Democrats: the bad news is that today’s “stories” could persist with mind-numbing repetition until you are about the bleed from your eyes and ears. The good news is that if you make at least a minimum effort to create some other stories that involve real life, you may not have much competition.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on May 13, 2013 5:27 PM:

    Here's the reason they're banging this thing to death - Benghazi's a "Two-fer!"

    The Republicans get to smear the KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistHeathenMuslim Usurper, and that lesbian who killed her male lover, Hillary Clinton - who, if she decides to run in 2016, could very well win in a minor landslide.

    And, even if Susan Rice was spreading bushsh*t talking-points that every Obama administration official knew weren't true on the "If it's Sunday, it's time to "Meet The Republicans'" bloviation festivals, it could hardly be a crime, or else Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, John Bolton, and other assorted members of the Cheney-Bush Cabal of War Criminals, would have been made an example of, over the past decade, or so.

    This is a nothing-burger.

    They're trying to keep super-sizing it, in hopes that something, anything, sticks to the POTUS, and the former FLOTUS.

    The Democrats need to keep saying, "Jobs! Jobs! JOBS!!!"

  • Altoid on May 13, 2013 5:30 PM:

    Dems may not have much competition for real-life stories, but they'd better get a lot better in a hurry at managing media agendas. All the right-wingers have to do is fart and the mics and cameras can't get there fast enough. Dems have needed to invent a less odoriferous media whistle forever, it seems. No time like the present.

    Didn't some goopers already say they already plan to impeach Obama and will decide later what the reasons should be? Like the Clinton impeachment, just without the "evidence." Good times!

  • Biscuits on May 13, 2013 5:33 PM:

    Drama Queens. They (reps) do drama like a bus full of debutantes. They remind me of Scarlett O'hara's Aunt. The one who was constantly having to be revived from her latest fainting spell.

  • Blue Girl on May 13, 2013 5:53 PM:

    Biscuits, I believe you are thinking of Aunt Pitty-Pat.

  • T2 on May 13, 2013 5:56 PM:

    Altoid, the Dems find managing the Media a hard road because the Media, for the most part, is owned by Corporations aligned with the "no regulations" GOP. In short, it's a rigged game and has been for quite a while. Absent that fact, today's GOP would a memory. And if you think it's bad for Obama, just wait until Hillary starts running/winning.

  • Biscuits on May 13, 2013 6:23 PM:

    Thanks Blue Girl! The party of Aunt Pitty-Pat it truly is.

  • PTate in MN on May 13, 2013 6:50 PM:

    I am already bleeding from my eyes and ears. It's like whack-a-rabid-mole already! Please, someone, make them stop!

  • Joe Friday on May 13, 2013 7:05 PM:

    This is what gets me about people that claim if Hillary is the candidate in 2016, the Republicans will bring up stuff from the '90s. What will they say, that she murdered Vince Foster, that she made money investing in pork bellies, that they lost money on a land deal ?

    People will roll their eyes, point their finger at the Republicans, and guffaw.

  • DRF on May 13, 2013 8:07 PM:

    First, the comparison with the Clinton impeachment is absurd. There's nothing here that touches Obama directly and I very much doubt that anything will be disclosed to change that. As insane and angry as the Republican base and many of their Congresspeople are, it's really hard to imagine this getting to the level of impeachment proceedings.

    Second, it appears that, for the most part, the electorate, with the exception of the already hostile Republican base, doesn't understand or care about Benghazi. They might care more about the IRS "scandal", but that won't even reach the White House, the people involved will be fired, and there won't be anything left to pursue.

    Neither of these situations has the legs to still be an issue 3 years from now.

    I also predict that the Republicans, in their fog of fear, stupidity and hatred, will once again overreach and alienate the moderates, uncommitted and swing voters.

  • smartalek on May 13, 2013 9:04 PM:

    From your mouth to God's ears, as my people would put it, DRF.

    (I *am* allowed to say that without being called "divisive," aren't I, being a white boy and all?)

  • exlibra on May 13, 2013 9:34 PM:

    [...] the IRS "scandal", but that won't even reach the White House, the people involved will be fired,[...] -- DRF, @8:7PM

    The person in charge at the time -- a Bush appointee, BTW -- left IRS *last November*, before all the hoopla. So he can't be fired, no matter how much Rubio might want him to be.

  • Joe Friday on May 14, 2013 12:23 PM:


    Displaying that you're not exactly one of the brightest lights in the harbor is not very good for your presidential prospects.