Peggy Noonan on why what's happening in Washington is no "ordinary scandal," and Michael Hirsh's "Five Myths About Benghazi" in Friday's must-read opinion pages.
WHEN GOVERNMENTS GO BAD
NEW YORK TIMES
We clearly have a values problem in the federal government. We clearly have a few or many agencies where the leaders don’t emphasize that workers need to check themselves, or risk losing what remains of the people’s trust… People can only have faith in a government that self-restrains, and there’s little evidence of that now.
THIS IS NO ORDINARY SCANDAL
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The president, as usual, acts as if all of this is totally unconnected to him. He’s shocked, it’s unacceptable, he’ll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers, just like you. But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander. This is his administration. Those are his executive agencies. … A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is to too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town. … [I]t would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere partisan arguing point and part of the game. It’s not part of the game. This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.
OBAMA’S TAPPED OUT TRUST
THE WASHINGTON POST
This past week has been amusing. There was the spectacle of advocates of an ever-larger regulatory government expressing shock about such government’s large capacity for misbehavior. … The scandals are interlocking and overlapping in ways that drain [Obama's] authority. Everything he advocates requires Americans to lavish on government something that his administration, and big government generally, undermines: trust.
NEW YORK TIMES
When politicians want to turn scandals into metaphors, actual details of wrongdoing or incompetence no longer matter. In fact, the details of the troubles swirling around the White House this week are bluntly contradicting Republicans who want to combine them into a seamless narrative of tyrannical government on the rampage.
REDACTED TRUTH, SUBJUNCTIVE OUTRAGE
On Nov. 28, press secretary Jay Carney told the media that State and the White House edited nothing but a single trivial word. When the e-mail trail later revealed this to be false, Carney doubled down. Last Friday, he repeated that the CIA itself made the edits after the normal input from various agencies. That was a bridge too far for even the heretofore supine mainstream media. The CIA may have typed the final edits. But the orders came from on high. You cannot tell a room full of journalists that when your editor tells you to strike four paragraphs from your text — and you do — there were no edits because you are the one who turned in the final copy.
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT BENGHAZI
Republicans have blown Benghazi out of proportion. It doesn’t appear to have been a cover-up, but neither can it be dismissed. It represents a tragic failure of U.S. policy, one that should spark a larger discussion about whether the government has responded poorly to the Islamist threats that have emerged since the Arab Spring.