White House Advisor Schooled on Response to Scandals

Dan Pfeiffer

What happens when a senior White House official goes on a Sunday morning talk show and dimisses the scandals that have plauged the Obama Administration for the past week? He gets absolutely humiliated by the host.

During an appearance on Face the Nation, Dan Pfeiffer, a White House advisor, tried to play down the IRS and Benghazi scandals, telling host Bob Schieffer that the focus on the bad news is the “Republican playbook.”

“The point that our Chief of Staff is making is that this is the Republican playbook here, which is try, when they don’t have a positive agenda, try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings and false allegations,” Pfeiffer told Schieffer. “We’re not going to let that distract us and the President from actually doing the people’s work and fighting for the middle class.”

While he was quick to note that he doesn’t believe the IRS scandal doesn’t have the scope of Watergate, Schieffer noted that the White House’s response to the IRS scandal is very much in vain of Nixon. “You’re taking exactly the same line they did,” Schieffer recalled.

As the conversation shifted to Benghazi, Pfeiffer tried to put the burden to Republicans for the scandal gaining traction in the media. Schieffer, once again, came right back at him.

“But Mr. Pfeiffer, and I don’t mean to be argumentative here, but the President is in charge of the executive branch of the government. It’s my, I’ll just make this as an assertion: when the executive branch does things right, there doesn’t seem to be any hesitancy of the White House to take credit for that,” Schieffer politely, but sternly noted. “When Osama bin Laden was killed, the President didn’t waste any time getting out there and telling people about it.”

“But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don’t even seem to know what has happened,” he continued. “And I use as an example of that Susan Rice, who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens.”

“I’m not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed,” he added.

While he still tried to defend the administration’s reaction to Benghazi, Pfeiffer looked absolutely helpless. He tried to continue his spin, but Schieffer wasn’t buying it.

“That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, ‘We don’t know yet?’” Schieffer asked. “Why didn’t the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?”

Pfeiffer’s initial argument doesn’t make much sense. He says that President Obama and the rest of the White House aren’t going to be distracted by these scandals and will focus on the “people’s work.” But how can President Obama focus on the “people’s work” when his own house is so out of order? These scandals aren’t the making of some “vast right-wing conspiracy,” which was essentially Pfeiffer’s Clintonian accusation,” they are indicative of an administration that is completely incoherent and inept.

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