Th REE SCANDALS — shifting explanations about the attacks in Benghazi, the targeting of conservative political groups by the Internal Revenue Service, and the administration’s secret inquiry into the Associated Press — dominated politics last week. All self-inflicted wounds, they threaten to upend Barack Obama’s second-term agenda as the inevitable investigations, denials, revelations, and resignations divert attention from everything else.
But the real story here is less about misdeeds than it is about power. Consider how these three scandals mesh with other stories of the day: Escalating drone strikes, bullying investigations of targets such as cyber-genius Aaron Swartz, the shelter-in-place commands in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, the rush to a never-ending surveillance state, and the like. The impression one gets is of government at all levels consolidating power unto itself and of a government that is ever more willing to use that power. It makes for scary stuff, stuff that has the potential to reset our politics.