Barack Obama

The Anatomy of an Obama Scandal

In six easy steps


what, him worry?
MAD Magazine

The Obama administration is riddled with scandals, from guns going missing in Mexico under Operation Fast & Furious to the revelations about the cover up of long wait times at Veterans Administration hospitals. In fact, these scandals have become such a regular occurence that we can now glean a pattern in how the administration gets itself into them, and then how it tries to wiggle itself out. The pattern generally follows six steps.

First, a scandal has to erupt. Often, it arises when the narrative pushed by the president and administration officials reaches the point where it's impossible to reconcile with known truths. For example, the Obama administration considered the Affordable Care Act, passed through Congress divisively in 2010—and which cost Democrats control of the lower chamber in elections later that year—a landmark piece of legislation, a "big fucking deal" in the words of Vice President Joe Biden. It took a lot of promises to get Obamacare passed, promises to legislators and to the public. The president's most famous promise, that if you liked your insurance plan you could keep it, ended up a lie. It could be no other way. The structure of Obamacare relied on restricting the kind of insurance plans individuals could purchase for themselves; the Obamacare website, moreover, may have been destined for failure from the beginning, possessed as administration officials were with the idea that it would succeed through will alone.

Similarly, the fact that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was targeting Tea Party-like 501(c)4 groups for extra scrutiny shouldn't have come as a surprise. The Obama campaign spent the run-up to the 2012 election demonizing the Tea Party as well as demonizing both 501(c)4s specifically and campaign spending in general despite, of course, making use of both. Democrats pushed for extra scrutiny for Tea Party groups, so why should it be a surprise when that scrutiny happened?

In Benghazi, meanwhile, the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission, which came less than two months before the election, flew in the face of President Obama's campaign trail assertions that Al Qaeda was on the run. So the president and his underlings instead blamed the terrorist act on a movie clip found on YouTube. The administration's efforts to twist the truth to fit a preferred political agenda is also sometimes abetted by the media. During one of the 2012 presidential debates, for example, CNN's Candice Crowley helped President Obama get away with spinning the specifics of the Benghazi reaction by backing him in a "fact check" while later admitting that debate opponent Mitt Romney was indeed "right in the main."

lookin for the softball
White House

Second, victims and whistleblowers step forward. So it was with the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. Naturally, the groups being victimized by the IRS knew about the IRS's actions immediately, and claims of an "enemy's list" came long before the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's May 2013 report. Other times the attention is first drawn to the scandal by whistleblowers. Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were partly responsible for bringing the botched Operation Fast & Furious to light. That law enforcement exercise involved walking guns to Mexico for tracking purposes. But then many of those guns went missing, with some popping up at crime scenes south of the border. The most important whistleblower during the Obama administration may have been Edward Snowden, whose revelations reminded the media, and the public, that the government was continuing to engage in the same kind of inappropriate data collection (and more) that scandalized the George W. Bush Administration.

Long wait times at veterans hospitals aren't new either. The Obama administration, in fact, was warned about the issue when it was still transitioning to the White House. The Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) was blasted for understating wait times at veterans' hospitals in a V.A. Inspector General's report in 2012. The administration didn't make it an issue because the reality at these hospitals didn't mesh with the idea that veteran care is a top priority for the Obama administration. A series of whistleblowers and revelations of long wait times and cover ups at hospitals across the country over the last month catapulted the scandal into the news cycle.

you can't tell he's mad?
C-SPAN screencap

Third, Obama tells America he's angry. He did it when the IRS scandal couldn't be ignored in the media anymore, telling the press he was angry about it. Obama was angry about the botched Obamacare website rollout, too. This past weekend, the president relayed his anger over the V.A. scandal via an aide. And when he's not angry, he's concerned or frustrated, as he said he was in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden's NSA revelations. The president insisted he was preparing to tackle the issues surrounding the secret surveillance programs even before Snowden forced the issue into the public sphere. He said, in fact, that he welcomed the debate, even as his government moved to prosecute Snowden, the whistleblower who made that debate possible. The important thing for the president is to signal to the public that he cares—even in circumstances where he claims he only found out about the issue by reading about it in the paper.

actual bus
White House

Fourth, the administation starts to drag its feet, and maybe also throws a low-level official under the bus. The Obama administration knew, or should've known, that was not ready for its October 2013 launch date. Yet after the botched launch, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius could only say that the administration was working to fix it. It took until December for the administration to say it would order a review of the botched launch. In the meantime, the chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services resigned. Similarly, while Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says he'll serve as long as he has the president's support, a lower-level V.A. official, an undersecretary for health, did resign this past weekend. Sometimes the resignations are rejected, as NSA chief Keith Alexander's reportedly was. Sometimes higher-level resignations come months later, as Sebelius' did.  

The resignations work to create room for the Obama administration to dodge answering questions about the scandals. When President Obama said he was angry about the alleged IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, he also announced the resignation (read: retirement) of the IRS chief.

benghazi's her biggest accomplishment according to some
C-SPAN screencap

Fifth, after enough time has passed, the administration will dismiss the scandal as either the result of partisanship or refer to it as "old news." IRS official Lois Lerner, for example, invoked the Fifth Amendment in a congressional hearing on the tax agency's targeting of conservative groups. Just last month she was held in contempt by that congressional committee. Yet President Obama has dismissed the outrage over the IRS scandal as a contrived attempt to make government look bad. But if it's just a partisan stunt, why is Lerner invoking the Fifth Amendment?

The scandal surrounding Benghazi is perhaps the best example of this. A year and a half after the attack, the government says it still doesn't know who perpetrated it. The administration says it's still investigating. That passage of time allows the administration to dismiss open questions about Benghazi as old news. As Hillary Clinton put it, what difference does it make "at this point"? Nor is Clinton alone in that attitude. "Dude, this was like, two years ago," a former National Security Council spokesperson told Fox News when asked for details about the White House's reactions to Benghazi.

check this out instead

Finally, an Obama scandal has run its course when no consequences are felt and the status quo remains the same. Few people are ever actually held accountable for an Obama administration scandal. Most of the IRS officials who left in the wake of the Tea Party debacle have managed to keep their pensions. Indeed, even when such officials purport to resign, they actually just retire; such was the case even for Lois Lerner, who flat-out refused to cooperate with Congress in its investigation. Meanwhile, despite many resignations and retirements, none of the officials implicated in Operation Fast & Furious were fired. The ATF agent who blew the whistle on the program, on the other hand, was fired.

Republicans share the blame here. Despite using their control of House committees to run investigations into various Obama scandals, Republicans have helped the Obama administration make sure the status quo remains the same. House Republicans held years of hearings about Fast & Furious, for example, and even held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to hand over documents related to the operation; but the GOP has not moved to review the ATF's budget and scope. Nor has the GOP shown any interest in investigating Bush-era gunrunning operations.

Similarly, while Republicans have held hearings on Benghazi since 2012, and the House recently set up a select committee to investigate, none of these hearings zeroed in on how the 2011 Libyan intervention contributed to the chaotic environment in which the Benghazi attacks happened. Nor has Congress been particularly interested in other consequences of the 2011 intervention, like the proliferation of weapons in the region. Republicans often lose track of the broader issues of government power (be it the ATF, the IRS, the NSA, or any alphabet soup agency that finds itself the center of an Obama scandal) to focus instead on how to leverage specific scandals for partisan gain. This failure to consistently oppose government overreach in turn allows the Obama administration and its apologists to dismiss these various scandals as mere partisan attacks.

NEXT: Obama Swings into Action with Sounds Bites Over VA Outrage, Democrats Join Benghazi Panel, Boko Haram Attacks Escalate: P.M. Links

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  1. They can’t have an anatomy because they’re all fake. Of course the peanut gallery here laps them up like the good little christfags they are. Fucking bushpigs.

    /fucking retard

    1. That fucking retard could own you in any debate on any day!

      1. Made up scandal!
        Ass chunks and Christ-fags and peanuts!
        *deep breath*

  2. Scandal? There’s never been one, ever. Never ever ever never.

  3. “I am just as outraged as you folks about [insert phony scandal here] and promise that my administration will get to the bottom of it, and will not allow certain parties to politicize the issue.”

  4. List of federal political scandals in the United States

    (individually listed – count provided to right)

    2009?present Obama Administration – 5 (five)

    2001?2009 George W. Bush Administration – 31 (thirty one)…..ted_States

    1. Don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

      1. if you lock eyes with me i’ll leg wrestle you

    2. Oh, that makes it okay then. If youre a fucktard.

    3. Gee you’re posting in a thread that won’t get many responses and trying not to say anything beyond copypasting from Wikipedia. I wonder why?

    4. When the first listing under W’s entry is that he signed a law passed by Congress, I can safely conclude that the entire entry is garbage.

      1. When shitbag is posting, the default is a presumption of lies and general mendacity.
        You can waste your time detailing it, but it has to be for your own pleasure; shitbag is immune to any factual comment regarding his god.

    5. Here’s a few that aren’t listed, just off the top of my head:

      (1) That commie guy that he appointed early on and had to resign. Forget his name.

      (2) His AG was held in contempt by Congress.

      (3) His NSA Director openly admitted lying to Congress.

      (4) His HHS Secretary either lied or was blatantly incompetent and ignorant about the OCare website launch.

      (5) Umm, Benghazi?

      (6) The systematic undermining of Inspector Generals in multiple agencies.

      These aren’t policy controversies.

      1. (1) That commie guy that he appointed early on and had to resign. Forget his name.

        Van Jones.

        Of course, Carol Browner is worse.

      2. Oddly enough Timmy Geitner’s tax evasion doesn’t show up. Nor Tom Daschle’s withdrawn cabinet nomination. Gee, wonder why. Oh, ’cause they’re fighting for the right causes. How could I forget?

      3. Obamacare is a series of scandals. It deserves to count as more than a scandal on the level of “one underling had to resign for something they did.”

        Plus Obama has two more years to go! Plenty of time for more scandals.

      4. Kevin Jennings, an Obama appointee who’s a bit on the pro-NAMBLA side.

    6. FAKE Palins!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      i know who i am

    7. Glad to hear the coke bender didn’t kill you.

      Wait, not glad…what’s that other word?

      Oh, right, disappointed.

    8. The media, the Academic Left, and the protest hobbyists spent eight years desperately trying to drag down Bush, came up with 31 “scandals”, most of which don’t amount to squat and some of which blossomed into full blown madness (the Truthers).

      Obama has the good wishes of the Media and the Academic Left, and nobody is covering whatever Protest Hobbyists object to him. And he STILL has a handful of scandals so smelly that the media has to cover them.

      Bush wasn’t blameless, but Obama is everything you’ve ever heard to the discredit of Chicago Democrat Politics, magnified.

      1. Keep in mind that Bush allowed an independent prosecutor for the Plame affair.

        Think about that.

        The Plame affair was a nothingburger.

        But Obama won’t appoint a special prosecutor even for the IRS scandal!

        So, at least give Bush points for allowing a true investigation.

    9. List of PB’s political scandals. There is only one.

    10. I think you really deserve some credit for bringing to our attention how out of date that article is. I think Obama’s list of scandals should easily be five times as long as it currently is. I’ll have to put together some edits when I have the time.

      1. I’ll put down $20 that Wiki editors block you from adding any scandals to Obama’s list.

        And for laughs, take a look at the scandals listed under Clinton. There are only 2.

  5. Y’know, I don’t think I’ll rank as a full member of the commentariat here until the Shreek has launched a few spittle-flecked epithets my way. C’mon, pal — just say a few Christfags or Bushpigs. You know you’ve been waiting for it

    1. Poke it a bit. Make it dance. =)

  6. The ole “saw it on the news this morning” line is particularly infuriating.

    1. exchef100|5.21.14 @ 5:19PM|#
      “The ole “saw it on the news this morning” line is particularly infuriating.”

      According to some sources, Eisenhower used to pull that shit by guile. Regardless, the newspapers at the time dragged him over the coals for it, unlike the current Obo lap-dogs.

  7. Waaaaaaait a minute – you guys changed the article picture on the H&R page.

  8. Anatomy? It’s denial all the way down.

  9. Not technically an Obama scandal, but the Daily Caller spotted this one about Rep. Joe Garcia from Florida…..ism-works/

    1. If you look at PB’s referenced list of “Legislative Branch” scandal, quite a few of them involve D’s & some of the ones that involve R’s were investigated and dropped, but


      1. Don’t worry, next week every one caused by Obo will be BOOOOOOOOSH’s fault; he MAKES Obo do that stuff!
        He’s amazing!

        1. Sevo,

          F*** you!

  10. And when he’s not angry, he’s concerned or frustrated, as he said he was in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations.

    When you can get people to believe that you ‘care’, for the sake of caring, it does not matter what your action and results of those actions are. At least that’s what I have learned from observing progs.

  11. I think they need to extend Secret Service protection to the person the delivers the daily newspapers to the White House. If anything ever happened to that person the President (by his own admission) will have no clue what’s going on in his own administration.

  12. “make sure the status quo remains the same”

    Wait… doesn’t status quo MEAN remains the same?

    “2009?present Obama Administration – 5 (five)”
    “2001?2009 George W. Bush Administration – 31 (thirty one)”

    If that were true, which it’s not, that would tell me that liberals are much better at picking nits, than Repugs. Not that Democrats are better behaved. And they’ve got the media on their side.

    Both suck.

  13. Obama mad, but won’t smash!

  14. Dear Ed, you know Benghaaaazzzzziiii was brought up in the election in 2012 and voters made their decision. How long are right-wingers going to hump Ambassador Stevens’ corpse? Is there a expiration date on hysterical right-wing outrage.

    1. american socialist|5.21.14 @ 9:52PM|#
      “Dear Ed, you know Benghaaaazzzzziiii was brought up in the election in 2012 and voters made their decision.”

      Dear as, you know Benghaaaazzzzziiii was lied about by Obo’s sycphants in the election in 2012 and the voters were either mislead or ignorant assholes like you.

      1. They were trying to cover up that Obama used the plural form of act. The scoundrel…

        “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

      2. Sevo

        F*** you again moron.

    2. Oh, and as?
      I’m going to presume anyone as stupid as you is too young to remember Nixon.
      Who won in a landslide after having his minions lie about Watergate to anyone who’d listen!
      Why, that sort of sounds like the slimy turd who defends Obo and mass murderers, doesn’t it?!

      1. Yes, Nixon lied about a slush fund to pay off political burglers looking to subvert a democratic election, illegal use of the CIA to persecute his political enemies, the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the harassment of anti-establishment journalists. Obama lied about whether he used act versus acts. Same, same– really.

        1. Hmm, which president was it that had the IRS persecute his political enemies, expanded military operations in the middle east, used his bully pulpit to attack journalist organizations, seized phone records of other journalists, blatantly deceived the public to get support for his ‘signature legislation’, relentlessly pursued whistle-blowers, etc, etc. Which one was that again?

    3. american socialist. What are you doing here ? You were Fired.

      1. You’re no doubt familiar with a dog returning to its vomit?

    4. “you know Benghaaaazzzzziiii was brought up in the election in 2012 and voters made their decision. ”

      Yes, I think he covered how the impartial debate moderator lied to cover Obama’s misrepresentations on that issue.

      But I guess your correct, that lying to the American people in a national debate is “bringing it up”.

  15. Right-wing strategy: if we trump up enough bullshit scandals maybe a clueless and hypnotized public will buy our horseshit. Obama’s dog crapped on the sidewalk. Scandal. It’s a numbers game. I get it.

    1. To be fair, President Butt Naked pulling his “Didn’t know nuffin'” act is good for a few laughs.

    2. american socialist|5.21.14 @ 9:55PM|#
      “Right-wing strategy: if we trump up enough bullshit scandals maybe a clueless and hypnotized public will buy our horseshit. Obama’s dog crapped on the sidewalk. Scandal. It’s a numbers game. I get it.”

      Left-wing strategy: If we get enough ignorant assholes like as to pitch our lies, we can keep them going through the election cycle!
      Obo’s a lying piece of shit, but we rely on those ignorant assholes to keep the lie going!

      1. Did not realize we supported a right-wing agenda here? im so confused with Am-Soc, you do know this is a Libertarian publication not a right wing? you do know that the only thing we agree with right wingers on is fiscal restraint of government and even then they would only pay it lip service… so who are you attempting to argue with i guess is the question? your constant badgering of Libertarians is self defeatist unless you want an all powerful dictator to make all your life choices for you, then i could understand why you wouldn’t like us. I can only guess that you have no clue at all what a libertarian is which is why your posts are so confusing. unless your whole goal was to piss off Libertarians by lumping us in with Authoritarians

      2. “If we get enough ignorant assholes like as to pitch our lies”

        I think the nomer you are looking for is “Useful idiot” –

    3. Paying taxes is for the bad people. Those with good intentions don’t have to. Especially not if they’re Secretary of the Treasury.



    4. Right-wing strategy: if we trump up enough bullshit scandals maybe a clueless and hypnotized public will buy our horseshit. Obama’s dog crapped on the sidewalk. Scandal. It’s a numbers game. I get it.

      Your own personal strategy american socialist consists of taking a crap on someones lawn, and then doing a weird victory dance around it.

    5. Let’s, for argument’s sake, say you are correct.

      I know 5 year olds with the scruples to explain why it is immaterial and doesn’t excuse wrongdoing.

      Is that too hard for you to understand?

    6. a clueless and hypnotized public will buy our horseshit.

      Isn’t this the very definition of Obama’s elections?

      Really, some nice trolling. Naming yourself a socialist and then repeating all the shrieking imbeciles talking points is really well done. And look how many people believed you were serious.


  16. The Obama Administration scandal strategy is brilliant.

    1. Don’t answer questions, pretend it isn’t happening.
    2. Get another scandal going so the public and cooperative media forget about the last one.
    3. Tell Fox it’s old news when damming evidence emerges.
    4. Repeat.

    1. And enlist imbeciles like as to keep the lies going!
      They love free shit and think Stalin just wasn’t given a chance, right as?

    2. says the right-wing drone. By cooperative media you mean the broadcast media that led their broadcasts with questions about this bullshit “scandal” or is that someone else?

      1. Says the left-wing drone. By cooperative media he means the broadcast media that uncritically parrots WH talking points and seems largely devoid of anything approximating journalistic integrity.

  17. My favorite Benghazi Fox News interview… watch a real military expert take on a FoxNews right-wing clown.

    1. A man gets raped multiple times, shocked with a cattel prod, then gets beaten to death. This must be the sexual attention you so desperately crave.american socialist.

      1. You are a despicable liar and a racist. Libyans tried to rescue Ambassador Stevens, rallied after his death in a pro-American rally, and drove militias out of Benghazi after his death. Why don’t you read a little bit before you post this offensive smear.

        You should be banned for this post.

        1. I broke you.

        2. You are broken. =)

        3. I think it’s cute when you talk to yourself.

  18. The “Old News” gambit was successfully used by the Clinton machine repeatedly during the 92 elections. Except they were able to pull “old news” out for things that were claimed last week and proven lies this week.

    “Old News” works perfectly if you have a willing army of accomplices in the media. It is just a fig leaf for the saps to hang their hat on.

  19. More lies from Obummer’s minions on Benghaaaazzzziiiii… this time from Republican Robert Gates. How does Obama mind meld with people to get them to say such obvious untruths? Don’t worry, Darrell Issa is on the case.

    In recent days, [Republicans] have been championing the suggestions of Gregory Hicks [not a total fucking liar*], the former deputy chief of mission for the U.S. in Libya

    Gates did not single out Hicks by name on Sunday, but he mocked those sorts of suggestions, saying they painted “a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.”
    ‘Well, why didn’t you just fly a fighter jet over and try and scare ’em with the noise or something?’ Well, given the number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from Qaddafi’s arsenals, I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft ? over Benghazi under those circumstances,” he said.
    “And with respect to ? sending in special forces or a small group of people to try and provide help, based on everything I have read, people really didn’t know what was going on in Benghazi contemporaneously,” Gates added. “And to send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, I think, would have been very dangerous.”
    *knock off “not a”

    1. FREAK OUT !!!!

  20. Watch how it defends rape and murder. =)

  21. Had we only elected John McCain and Sarah Palin! They would have saved us from these scandals!

    1. They would almost certainly have had their own scandals, but I’ll guarantee you the media would be looking at everything they did and said with a magnifying glass.

      How do you think the media would have reacted to a McCain Administration if it went after Journalists or the IRS started systematically blocking Left Wing groups tax exempt status?

  22. The pictures were the best. It’s like we are living in TV land. Circus with a death toll and everyone keeps cheering for more

  23. Honest question to Am-Soc puppet
    What about socialism appeals to you specifically that you would support such a liberty destroying and freedom limiting economy structure?
    I mean yeah i know its nice to think everyone will just keep the world spinning if they have nothing to gain but really think about the 5 laziest people you know, and know that no matter how hard you work you get paid the exact same as they do… where is your motivation to work harder? what happens to productivity? what about advances in science and new products…. no socialism doesn’t work in the long run, and it provides a lower standard of living for the poor than even crony-capitalism does. whats wrong with letting people starve if they cant find food, isn’t that the law of nature and the earth? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a Lion pride that kept its weakest most diseased members around and alive, that’s why he’s king of the jungle only the best and brightest survive.

    1. Crickets…

    2. Vic,

      Socialism doesn’t work. OK. Fair enough. So, do you have any other solutions besides “Social Darwinism” or borderline Nazism. Just curious. Thanks.

    3. I commend you for not obfuscating. Let ’em starve. You all believe it, but you said it. Good for you.

  24. Oh god! MAD magazine is racist!

  25. So what’s new?! Every Presidential Administration in the History of The United States of America has been “riddled with scandals”. The next administration (whether DemoCRAZIE or RePOOPlican) will also be “riddled with scandals”, as will the one after that. So what’s new? Let’s do something “exciting” and start predicting future scandals.

    1. Was this your reaction to every Bush scandal?

      1. JWatts

        And your point is? Read my comment again you moron. Apparently you are another undereducated functional semi-literate with reading comprehension problems. What did I say you stupid asshole? I said that the USA has always had political scandals and will continue to have them in the future no matter who is in the White House or Congress. Was that so hard for you to understand you fool? Have a nice day dip shit.

  26. its awesome,,, Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out

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