E. J. Dionne Jr., on the strange thing that happened on the way to a Justice Department subpoena that everyone is apparently supposed to be really upset about:
“Isn’t it odd that many Republicans who demanded a thorough investigation a year ago are now condemning the Justice Department for doing what they asked for? Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus even called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, saying he had ‘trampled on the First Amendment’.”
The thing is, that in a post-policy endeavor, Republicans will say anything. It is much akin to the idea of a bunch of angry conservatives taking out their frustrations with post-modernism—only thirty years late, but nobody is counting because why would they?—on the rest of society.
More important than the whiff of hypocrisy is the reason that it does not matter.
When we pause to consider, as Greg Sargent, among others, has, it is not really so difficult to see what is happening.
It’s hard not to notice that a kind of narrative schizophrenia has taken hold as Republicans seek to turn the various ongoing scandals in Washington to their advantage — and as commentators try to interpret what the political fallout from them will mean.
One current storyline has it that all of these stories could converge to create a sense that Obama’s embrace of government activism has shaded into Nixonian abuses of power — revealing that Obama personally harbors a far more intrusive, overbearing, and even sinister approach to governing than he previously let on. But another current storyline has it that the White House’s pushback on these scandals — the claims of a firewall between the Justice Department and the White House, the assertions of no connection to the IRS abuses – reveal a president who is weak and unable to control the government he presides over ….
…. Obviously, these narratives can’t both be true at once. The scandals can’t demonstrate that Obama’s true dictatorial streak has finally been revealed while simultaneously supporting the idea that they’ve shown him to be too weak to control a government that has run amok.
What all of this illustrates, yet again, is that imposing simplistic narratives on complex, disparate situations actually discourages the act of focusing on the actual facts of those situations.
One of the frequent fallacies of political argument is that one or another takes their cues from this or that political figure or media icon. Sometimes, though, something far easier to comprehend—and considerably less stupid—is actually taking place. Kind of like that subtle nudge in public that everybody seems to understand: Hey! You seeing this?
That is to say, sometimes it is comforting to know that one is not the only person who noticed.