On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renee Montagne is in Afghanistan this week. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. When we think about the controversies swirling around Washington this week, there's a common denominator. They fall on the shoulders of Attorney General Eric Holder.
INSKEEP: First, news broke that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors. This has ignited a First Amendment uproar.
Tea Party activists are calling for a full investigation, and possibly lawsuits, following revelations that the Internal Revenue Service flagged so-called patriot groups for extra scrutiny in applications for federal tax-exempt status.
Among those claiming unjust and unconstitutional targeting by the IRS is a group called TheTeaParty.net, which bills itself as the largest grass-roots conservative Tea Party organization in the country.
The sudden eruption of second-term scandals in his administration will have many costs for President Obama, but surely the most grievous will be the lost opportunity to transcend the partisan wars of Washington. That aspiration was his fondest dream for his second term, much as it was for his first. Now it seems destined to be dashed once again.
This was the critical moment, the brief time between his inaugural and when the nation's collective focus turns to whom his successor will be, when President Obama had to make real progress on his second-term agenda and thus forge his legacy.
Instead, the president finds his administration, the public, Congress and the news media distracted by controversies over Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and a leak investigation in which the Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.
The Senate Judiciary held its second round of debate on changes to the bipartisan immigration bill. Tuesday's focus was visas for workers, including visas for skilled technical work. David Welna talks to Melissa Block.
President Ulysses S. Grant gets the credit — or blame? — for helping make "mistakes were made" a phrase that politicians can't seem to avoid using.
Credit Spencer Arnold / Getty Images
White House press secretary Ron Ziegler was famous for mounting a strong defense of President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. In 1973, he famously apologized to <em>The Washington Post</em> and reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, saying "mistakes were made in terms of comments" that the White House made about them.
In December 1986 and again during his State of the Union address a month later, President Reagan conceded that "mistakes were made" by his administration when it sold arms to Iran and shipped the proceeds to Contras in Nicaragua.
Credit Terry Ashe / Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Steven Miller, now the acting commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service, grabbed the "mistakes were made" lifering in an op-ed published by <em>USA Today</em> on Tuesday.
Credit Alex Wong / Getty Images
Democrats play the "mistakes were made" card as well. In January 1998, President Clinton was asked about a fundraising scandal. "Mistakes were made here by people who did it either deliberately or inadvertently," he replied.
Credit Doug Mills / AP
President Ulysses S. Grant gets the credit — or blame? — for helping turn "mistakes were made" into a phrase that American politicians can't seem to avoid using.
When it comes to approving new medical treatments, the Food and Drug Administration is balancing the need for patient safety against the urgency of making important new treatments available as quickly as possible.
Some argue the FDA sets the bar too high, requiring a process that takes too much time and money to carry out. They say that can leave patients waiting longer than necessary for promising treatments or lead to drugs not being developed at all.