Ringside Seat: A Scandal Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

There are few things that irritate Republicans more than the fact that Barack Obama went through an entire term with nothing but minor scandals to tie him down. No Watergate, no Iran-Contra, no Lewinsky, not even a little Valerie Plame. It wasn't that the GOP didn't try to create one, though. There was "Fast and Furious," in which the administration supposedly let Mexican drug gangs get all kinds of weapons from the U.S. on purpose, so that when it was revealed it could be used as an excuse to take away everybody's guns. Despite the Republicans' best efforts, the conspiracy theory didn't pan out. There was Solyndra, in which the administration supposedly knowingly squandered taxpayer money on a bunch of their cronies using a technology destined to fail. Alas, no sinister criminal activity was found there, either. As scandals go, they were small beans.

But then, in the heat of the 2012 campaign, came Benghazi. Four Americans dead, a slightly misinformed Susan Rice repeating slightly inaccurate talking points, Obama not uttering the magical word "terrorism" often enough, or early enough, or something. Could this be their deliverance? The scandal they were waiting for?

On Planet Earth, the answer is pretty obviously no. But they are determined. They know there was a nefarious cover-up, even if they can't say just what was being covered up or why, beyond the fact that Obama loves terrorists and hates America so he obviously did something awful. On his radio show today, Mike Huckabee declared that this would be the end of the president they loathe so much. "When a president lies to the American people and is part of a cover-up, he cannot continue to govern," Huckabee said. "And as the facts come out, I think we're going to see something startling. And before it's over, I don't think this president will finish his term unless somehow they can delay it in Congress past the next three and a half years."

Sure, the thought of Obama being impeached or resigning over Benghazi sounds insane. But a party can dream, can't they?

So They Say

"The Supreme Court decision was an excruciatingly difficult experience. It was excruciating. I don’t want to pretend that it wasn’t a devastating experience, it was. It was really, really hard."

Al Gore, quoted in a New York magazine profile

Daily Meme: Hiking the Campaign Trail

  • Tomorrow marks the big special election in South Carolina's District 1, and it's setting out to be a doozy.
  • On the right, we have former governor Mark "On the AT" Sanford.
  • On the left, we have Elizabeth "Yes, She's the Sister of Stephen" Colbert Busch, whom the Charleston Post and Courier called a "welcome tonic" for those suffering from "Sanford fatigue."
  • Because, as a Georgetown political scientist puts it, "Mark Sanford seems to be the Todd Akin of this special election, meaning it's more about him than about her."
  • The latest poll from Public Policy Polling shows that Sanford has closed a ten-point gap, and is now in the lead by one point.
  • USA Today calls the race "too close to call."
  • Why the sudden change in polling? Harry Enten says "Sanford's comeback is entirely built upon newfound Republican support likely gained by nationalizing the race."
  • It's important to note, as Dave Weigel does, that although it "got lost in the winds of scandal ... Sanford has an incredibly easy charm and—maybe by necessity, now—a welcoming, humble campaign style."
  • Colbert Busch has turned what should have been a relatively easy race for Sanford into a squeaker, in part thanks to outraising him
  • Democrats are psyched about the possibility of a win in the deep South. As NPR phrases it, "it's their best chance in more than three decades to win a South Carolina congressional seat in a special election Tuesday."
  • But, history shows that if she does manage to win the seat, she's not likely to hold on to it for long.
  • Tomorrow's race is still very much up in the air, but both candidates can be thankful they aren't running against Candice Glover, who will likely turn out far more voters in District 1 than either of the House candidates this week.

What We're Writing

  • The Marketplace Fairness Act, due for a vote this week, will allow states to collect the Internet sales-tax revenues they've been deprived of for decades, finally putting shoppers with and without broadband access on a level playing field. Jeff Saginor writes: "It is something very rare for a deeply polarized Congress in an era of unprecedented corporate influence: It’s fair."
  • Will President Obama's friend and venture capitalist Tom Wheeler "make good on the president’s early promises to make the U.S. a 21st Century digital nation that reflects the diversity of our country" during his tenure as FCC chair? "Let us hope that the former lobbyist is brave enough to stand up to his former clients, and use his power in the public interest," writes Mark Lloyd, drawing a contrast with Wheeler's predecessor, Julius Genachowski.

What We're Writing

  • Shameless self-promotion or a chance to cut loose? The line is blurred in the Washington photobomb, where sincerity and authenticity are perpetually at odds.
  • Right before the financial crash, a group of Princeton students threw a "Great Gatsby party" that cost $20,000. Their utter failure to grasp the point of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel—its condemnation of decadence—seems to be shared by the public at large, a public that is now the target of a Brooks Brothers campaign to get them to buy lots and lots of fancy shirts.
  • The Atlantic explores the wonder that is NPR reporters' names.
  • Edward Luce describes the difference between the Republican Party's arsonists and architects.
  • Jonathan Chait ponders Obama's environmental legacy.
  • Irin Carmon says Jennifer Rubin is right! About one thing. Everything else, not so much.
  • Dexter Filkins unpacks the White House debate over Syria.

Poll of the Day

Seventy-one percent of all voters—including 74 percent of conservative GOPers—want immigration reform similar to the Gang of Eight proposal beginning Senate markup this week, according to a survey conducted by two polling firms (one Democratic and one Republican). Supported measures include a pathway to citizenship, increased border security, and allowing more high-skilled workers into the country.

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