Bob Franken: The forfeits

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, May 10, 2014 2:12pm
  • Opinion

The Democrats are doing what they do best. Once again, they’re handing issues to the Republicans. It’s their specialty. Of course, there’s Obamacare. By now, the constant efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act should have become an embarrassment to the GOP. True, the Affordable Care Act lately has had a string of successes, the most recent one being an announcement from insurance companies that the vast majority of the higher-than-expected number of signer-uppers have paid their first month’s premium.

That, as Vice President Joe Biden kinda said, is a big freakin’ deal. However, no matter how many BFDs they get, it will take a long time for the Democrats to overcome the mortifying startup, which was the result of ridiculously bad management. It haunts them to this day, and more importantly, will haunt them till Election Day.

But the Obama peeps are always looking for targets of opportunity to wildly miss. We had reached the point where consistent hammering over the tragic events in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, were being perceived as cynical attempts by the Republicans to exploit the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and others who were murdered by terrorists while traveling with minimal protection to U.S. facilities and, obviously they want to stick it to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she prepares for her coronation as Democratic presidential nominee.

Furthermore, GOP efforts to characterize the public response by the president and his top national-security officials as a cover-up had been discredited by the exaggerations and outright lies of the main inquisitor Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Once again, further information has been disclosed that breathes new life into incendiary charges that indeed the president’s top aides were mostly interested in protecting the president’s image as we approached Election Day.

Thanks to relentless efforts by the gadfly group Judicial Watch, the White House was forced to reveal a ton of documents. Included was an email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes laying out talking points about the disaster, which sought to minimize the foul-ups that contributed to the murder of Stevens and those with him.

Worst of all, from a political point of view, was the fact that the email had not been included in the material demanded by congressional committees. Was that a cover-up? Republican leaders said it was, and once again the Obama forces had revived a nearly dead issue.

So Republicans pounced. Not only have they rammed through the House the creation of a new select committee that will focus on nothing but what we’re calling “Benghazigate,” but they are shouting from the rooftops (or in Congress I guess it’s the Capitol dome top) about the president’s disregard for the law. Their screams are one big “I told you so!” Still again, the Obamites are doing everything in their power to help out their enemies.

Meanwhile, the Republicans seem to have learned a big lesson in how to avoid forfeiting the game. In primary after primary, the less extreme, more establishment candidate has won, meaning that in the battle for control of Congress, the Democrats won’t have a totally goofy opponent. The D’s managed to hold on to the Senate till now, because the hordes of R’s on the fringes had overrun the middle. But now, the big business interests have flooded the primaries with money and driven out the far-out. If they continue, they have a really good chance of turning the entire Hill into an anti-Obama fortress.

That could make the last two years of the Obama presidency a last gasp.

Republicans will have new power to flog Barack Obama, and to a large degree his forces will have handed them the weapons to do it.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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