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To Get Things Done, Washington Needs Scandals & Crises

TAGS: Legislative
washington scandal with IRS CIA

This was quite a week in Washington, D.C. The television news buzzed with coverage of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abusing its power to punish Obama detractors. In addition, with the White House release on Wednesday of internal emails between it, the CIA and State Department, the plot thickened on how forthcoming the Obama administration really was on the roots of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. Plus, there was the story that really stirred up the Beltway media – the revelation that the U.S. Justice Department had seized the phone records of news organizations as part of an effort to discover the source of internal leaks.

The stories about such abuses of power, particularly in the IRS case, are chilling. But if there’s a silver lining to such scandals and crises, it’s that their revelations force government to act in areas where it had been turning a blind eye. They momentarily put the brakes on the ever-increasing power of the government, and give citizens and media the chance to raise caution. Without the presence of a scandal or crisis, any concern is just characterized and dismissed as partisan squabbling and political gamesmanship. The result is that few outside of the Washington Beltway have the time or inclination to get too worked up about it.

Thus, it’s little wonder that it takes a crisis to generate any groundswell of emotion. Whether it’s the financial meltdown, health care or global warming, everything has to be a crisis or scandal to generate action.

This week also saw a lot of articles emanating from the environmental movement. They all featured the same theme, which is that global warming is still a continuing threat and a growing crisis. There is genuine fear among the environmental movement that 40 years of preaching doom and gloom is starting to lose its shock value among the general populace.

Consider these points: We just experienced the coldest April in decades. Russian scientists are now predicting a coming global cooling period. And the increased solar activity that’s characterized our temperature and weather patterns for the last couple of decades appears to be slowing.

News like this all help make it even more problematic for environmental activists to convince people that the world’s future hangs in the balance. 

The key to any crisis or scandal, whether real or manufactured, is not the actual event or subject. It is what actions government is able to push through as a proposed solution to the crisis or scandal.


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