Though all administrations in American history have weathered the occasional scandal, none before has been blessed with a Tommy Vietor. Oh that they had!
The Benghazi story broke out of its Fox News ghetto last week as mainstream media biggies decided, months after it was fairly obvious, that the Obama administration had lied -- lied! -- about the tragic event.
Newly released emails show that White House and State Department officials extensively edited the "talking points" (TPs) provided to Congress and to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, insisting on removing from the CIA's original memo any reference to al-Qaida, its affiliates and previous attacks on "foreign interests" in Benghazi. Apparently, renewed terrorist attacks might not have gone over very well during the presidential campaign.
But, as Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman, tweeted Friday: "The #Benghazi TPs were written at request of the House intel committee Rs so they could go on TV. Cong forced admin to do them now attack."
You follow? "By requesting information on the murders of four Americans, Republicans ("Rs") forced us to invent things to cover our political backsides! Then these snakes object to our lies!"
The audacity is breathtaking, even by Washington standards. And Twitter makes it all sound so much more stupid.
The Obama administration didn't have to finesse the Affordable Health Care Act from not-a-tax to biggest-new-tax-in-American-history because the Supreme Court did that for them.
But if John Roberts (#SCOTUS) used Twitter, his tweet might read: "No more spankings in Prez's StateoftheUnion -- LOL! Here I come #bestparties in DC! I got me some #strangenewrespect"
If Richard Nixon's crew had boasted a spinmeister as gutsy as Mr. Vietor, history might have taken a very different course. Nixon apologists could have claimed, "The Watergate coverup occurred only because journalists kept prodding for information. Now they attack!"
Or, if Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler had had Twitter: "#Watergate was non-story til #Bob Woodward heard Redford would play him in movie. Proves #politics is #Hollywood for ugly people!"
As the litany of Bill Clinton's extramarital escapades unfolded through the late 1990s, spokesman Mike McCurry could have made an official statement: "Bill Clinton denied committing adultery only because investigators asked if he had. They forced him to testify under oath, and now people are saying his lies are 'perjury'!"
Or, if Twitter had existed: "No one would ever've heard of @MonicaLewinsky if Paula Jones hadn't sued 4 harassment, all becuz she wants $$ to fix her nose! #JustSaying."
When George W. Bush fired 11 of the federal prosecutors he'd appointed, allegedly to stop them from investigating Republicans or to punish them for not prosecuting Democrats, or both, Tony Snow could have shoveled it a bit: "You opposed these guys vociferously when the president appointed them. He simply came around to your point of view. You attack him, but you are the ones to blame."
If he'd had Twitter? "U opposed 'em before u supported 'em? Ever heard of @John Kerry? How'd that work for him? #Flipflops -- LOLZ"
The number of political scandals dwindles as you go backward through time, at least those compiled online, probably because bloggers, tweeters and other members of the Internet generation have never used microfilm. Or books.
George Washington and the cherry tree: "I find myself in trouble, father, because you insist on knowing who cut it down. I cannot tell a lie: My spiritual discomfort is your fault."
But why limit applications of Tommy Vietor's blame-game to politicians? Con men can be found in other professions, too.
Bernie Madoff's defense attorneys could argue that his Ponzi scheme collapsed because of his clients' actions. "When these people tried to claim their investments and earnings, they were rashly taking out more than the investment fund contained. They blame Bernie, but they caused the collapse!"
Via Twitter: "U made the $$ disappear by asking for it back. Ur fault! #Suckers"
Your fault, suckers. That's the view from Washington.ruthanndailey
Ruth Ann Dailey: firstname.lastname@example.org