One might argue that the President of the United States was reelected under false pretenses—that there was a certain degree of deceit leading up to Election Day. Three items in particular might lead one to this conclusion: the “war on women” narrative, Benghazi, and the IRS.
Backtracking for a moment, a brief summary of the first three items is appropriate here.
First was the “war on women” narrative. This came about during a Congressional hearing on religious freedom as it related to the ACA. At the eleventh hour before the hearing, Democrats attempted to switch out a witness for a young woman named Sandra Fluke, who wanted to testify about the burdensome cost of birth control for college students. She was denied, as the hearing covered a different topic (religious freedom). Democrats staged a mock hearing, allowing Fluke to air her concerns. This and subsequent events were construed as a “war on women,” which was credited with giving the president an 8-point edge among women voters in November.
Second was Benghazi. Shortly after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Obama administration officials set out to suppress what really happened leading up to and during the assault. The incident was blamed on a video, and the maker of that video was subsequently arrested for an unrelated offense. Great effort was made to cover up repeated requests for additional security in the months leading up to the attack as well as the decision to withhold additional military support during. Later, in a debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney, debate moderator Candy Crowley even came to president’s aid by rebutting one of Romney’s points—a point that was later demonstrated to be accurate. It wasn’t until after the election that the public learned a greater extent of the administration’s mishandling of the situation. The suppression certainly buoyed the president’s reputation on foreign policy matters.
Third was the IRS scandal. Following the election, the IRS admitted that rightist groups were treated unequally with regard to being granted tax-exempt status. The story blew up and dominated the news cycle for weeks. At this point the investigation continues, but it seems clear that the IRS targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny. In the process, many of these groups sat in limbo for months, even years in some cases, preventing them from fundraising and operating as planned. While the damage likely cannot be quantified, the unequal treatment probably suppressed Republican turnout by hindering conservative grass roots efforts. In turn, this most likely increased the president’s margin of victory.
As for the fourth item, CBS News has reported that the Obama administration stopped issuing new rules regarding the implementation of the ACA during the summer and fall leading up to the election. In turn, health care providers, insurers, and contractors preparing for the new law were left in limbo, unable to get ready for the day it went into effect. One official was quoted, “Some of [the rules] were ready to go back in June or July…Suddenly, everything was on hold.” CBS found that the administration issued 109 regulations between 2010 and the end of August 2012, but none after September 1. The delays are puzzling and beg many questions, but one possible conclusion is that the administration was attempting to hide some of the law’s problems until after Election Day.
All said, one must wonder what voters would have done had they know of these four items in, say, early September 2012.