Republicans Politicize Secret Service, GSA Scandals

Karl Rove warned Republicans that attempts to link President Obama to the ongoing Secret Service and GSA scandals would be perceived as political overreach. But so far, they haven’t been able to help themselves.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pushed full speed ahead this week, writing a letter to the White House seeking answers on whether others were somehow involved in the Secret Service prostitution scandal. Then on Tuesday he suggested on an Iowa radio station that the Colombian prostitutes at the heart of the inquiry may have been Russian spies.House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), the GOP’s point man for unearthing Obama-related scandals, and Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY), are insisting that more people were involved in the Secret Service scandal than the agency is admitting.

Regarding the General Services Administration employees’ spending spree in Las Vegas, the GOP has been no less restrained.

Issa portrayed it as evidence of “the most corrupt government in history.” During a Tuesday appearance on Bloomberg TV, he linked the scandal to the bank bailout and stimulus in an attempt to bash Washington’s out-of-control spending. “This money going though the hands of political leaders is corrupting the process, whether it is Solyndra, GSA or a number of other scandals,” Issa said.

High-ranking Republican Rep. John Mica (FL) claimed the White House “knew about it, did nothing, kept it quiet” until forced to ‘fess up. He then admitted that the scandal helps him attack Obama. “No, no, I’m not scoring political points,” Mica said on Fox. “But I am labeling [President Obama] as a big spender.”

To date there is no evidence that the White House tried to cover up the scandals or that any high-level Obama aides, let alone the president himself, were involved. The scandals have dominated Beltway chatter for weeks, and several individuals guilty of wrongdoing, along with the GSA chief, have already been forced out of the agencies.

The political phenomenon is one both parties fall prey to when they believe they have a winning story: Incessantly push until you overdo it and surrender the high ground. Democrats recently fell into a similar trap when they took the RNC chairman’s “war on caterpillars” line out of context, and when they hammered Romney’s call to cut public funding for Planned Parenthood by falsely implying he wanted to “get rid of” the organization itself.

These sorts of missteps risk being seen by voters as partisan opportunism, as Rove warned his fellow Republicans last Sunday.

“Every argument in politics generates a counter-argument,” Rove said on Fox News. “And the counter-argument that will be generated if Republicans try and make this a big push against President Obama is the ordinary American will look there and say, you know what, that is going over the top.”