The political tug of war between the Obama administration and Republicans has returned to its insane level of rhetoric that we remember prior to the November elections.
Some Republicans argue the administration misled the public about Benghazi to help ensure a victory in November. Some Democrats argue Republicans are making something out of nothing to tarnish Obama and Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential run in 2016.
Republicans want to know who knew what about the IRS. The administration also criticizes the IRS but points out the president does not run the agency.
And both sides of the aisle express unhappiness with subpoenas related to the Associated Press.
Some of the media seem to be complicit in a reality game show atmosphere, working side-by-side with politicians on whom can deliver the most sensational sound bites. These “scandals” raise some important discussions, but good grief. If only some politicians would work to solve our everyday problems with the same zeal that they try to call hearings and speak craziness into microphones.
For a moment, take off your political team’s bloodied uniform and acknowledge some of what’s really happening: In general, the administration wants to downplay any links to these issues as much as possible. On the other hand, some Republicans want to make these issues seem as dreadful as possible and portray the government as a stalker peaking through your bedroom window at night. Call it high stakes marketing far beyond the traditional press release. If some of these microphone huggers really wanted the truth, they would wait for their hearings to finish fleshing out the facts before demanding justice with their scary words.
The media are already analyzing how these current issues might impact Obama’s legacy without acknowledging our tug of war may likely have moved on to something new in six months. But Obama is taking some important steps for crisis communications:
- He showed concern about the IRS issue by saying, “Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it.”
- He took action by accepting the resignation of the top person of the IRS.
- The White House released e-mails related to Benghazi.
- He brought back legislation to help legally protect journalists.
- He answered questions at a news conference.
- He for the most part keeps his composure.
- He asked Congress to help improve security at American embassies.
I’m not saying he’s right. I’m saying those are some of the moves you make when opponents say you’re wrong.
Of course, others might share examples pointing out the administration put itself in this PR mess in the first place. Fair enough. But these latest steps help the president reach his larger goal of refocusing attention to his agenda. He is building a dam against gushing water. But some water will always leak through. His critics also have public relations firms armed with strategies. Even if Obama registered tomorrow as a Republican and shouted “pretty please with a cherry on top,” critics know to share phrases such as:
- “We demand more information.”
- “We reject the apologies as insufficient.”
- “This is politics at its worst.”
- “He is not going far enough.”
- “We are determined to get answers.”
So the tug of war continues with almost everyone landing in the mud. Some politicians hope to score points. The media hopes to improve ratings. Too much of the public is desperate for details that prove that the opposing party is truly the scum of the Earth.
And I, of course, write a blog, tired of grown-ups who can’t solve problems or controversies without acting like the sky is falling and it’s the other guy’s entire fault.