The Atlantic

Philip Bump
Jul 17, 2013

Those of you who are old enough may remember a time when Barack Obama was plagued with scandal. “Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill,” Politico yelped. The suffix “-gate” was added to various words.

That was months ago. In the meantime, the Edward Snowden leaks significantly refocused D.C.’s attention. So what happened to the scandals? For the most part, they’ve been hollowed out. Each has been comprehensively lamented by the administration; each has been addressed by the White House or with policy proposals. None is dead. All are close.

The scandal: Benghazi

What it was: The death of four Americans at a diplomatic (read: CIA) outpost in the Libyan city of Benghazi last September 11th bubbled for a while. The release of emails suggesting a cover-up kicked conspiracy theories into high gear.

How real it was in the first place: Not very

Current status: Last rites administered

Those emails reported by ABC News were only part of the story. The White House released the full email chain, making it clear that the administration’s involvement in drafting a set of post-attack talking points wasn’t what opponents suggested. (We even declared the scandal dead the same week.)

It’s come up a few times since. One of the survivors is writing a book about the attack, which could prompt more attention at its release.

One clear sign that the scandal has basically evaporated came at the nomination hearing of Victoria Nuland to be assistant secretary of state. Nuland was State’s point person on the email chain, which several senators mentioned. Regardless, Nuland’s nomination is supported by two top Republicans—ones who originally called for investigation of Benghazi.

The scandal: IRS targeting of Tea Party Groups

What it was: The inspector general for the IRS determined that the agency had singled out conservative groups with the words “Patriot” or “Tea Party” in their names for additional scrutiny.

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