The activists who can’t stop crying ‘wolf’

THE ACTIVISTS WHO CAN’T STOP CRYING ‘WOLF’…. When the Obama administration fired Gerald Walpin, the Bush-appointed inspector general of AmeriCorps, many on the right thought they’d discovered a new scandal. We’ve known for a while now that there’s far less to the Walpin “controversy” than meets the eye, but Zachary Roth had a helpful item the other day noting why the story has quickly faded away.

As we noted yesterday, the Washington Post has published the documents turned over by the Corporation for National and Community Service to a Senate committee reviewing the White House’s firing of AmeriCorps IG. Conservatives had charged that the IG, Gerald Walpin, was canned for going too hard after an Obama ally.

We’ve taken a look through the documents, and it’s fair to say they offer a pretty clear picture of how and why the CNCS board lost confidence in Walpin. They jibe closely with what the White House and the board have already said — to us, among others — about the deterioration of the relationship between the IG and his agency. And they also make clear that this deterioration had begun long before the Obama administration existed. […]

You’ve got to assume that this mass of evidence has put to rest once and for all the line that this was a politicized firing — and indeed, the conservative outrage seems to have receded recently.

Yes, it has. Walpin was all the rage in conservative circles, right up until the “controversy” appeared baseless, and White House detractors were forced to move on.

But notice how this has happened quite a bit in the very young Obama administration. Remember when conservatives were convinced that the White House was closing car dealerships based on owners’ political contributions? Or how about the not-so-scandalous Department of Homeland Security report about potentially violent extremists, which prompted some conservatives to call for Napolitano’s resignation? Or about the EPA economist whose bizarre memo on global cooling was “suppressed”?

All of these caused widespread apoplexy among rabid anti-Obama activists. And all of these quickly fell apart after minimal scrutiny.

Kevin Drum had a very good item a couple of months ago, arguing that there’s nothing especially wrong with far-right activists watching the administration like a hawk, doing what opposition parties do. And there’s certainly something to be said for this — if conservative bloggers want to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire, more power to ’em. It’s what being politically engaged is all about.

The problem is, these folks keep crying “wolf” without thinking it through. Conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts are constantly finding scandalous schemes and outrageous abuses relating to the White House. Some are transparently ridiculous, and some take a few seconds on Google to debunk, but either way, they shout a lot of nonsense. And as a result, it’s easy to start ignoring them.

Maybe the right’s Ahabs can start being a little more selective?