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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 16th, 2013
06:46 PM ET

Former Obama deputy press secretary fields Jon Stewart’s criticism

If an embattled President Barack Obama was looking for scandal shelter from left-leaning comedian Jon Stewart, the “Daily Show” has provided little this week.

“Every critic suddenly has credibility, every single one,” Stewart said Wednesday night after one of the show’s trademark montages, this one of Republicans hammering Obama over the IRS, Benghazi and phone tracking headlines.

The best Stewart could chastise Republicans: “The Obama administration transgressions don’t wipe away yours, which are many (and) grievous.”

Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary under Obama, laughed off the harshest criticisms.

“I guess president Obama is done. He ought to submit his resignation right now,” Burton said Thursday on CNN’s “The Lead.”

But considering the presidential line of succession, Burton continued, “I hope he likes Joe Biden, because if he doesn’t, we got John Boehner.”

More seriously, Burton said, Obama should stand in contrast to Republicans.

“The president is on offense and that’s the right thing,” he said. “He saw there was a problem, he got on it … If Republicans felt so strongly about having a strong enforcement mechanism there, they would go ahead and confirm an IRS commissioner. But they’re sitting on the sidelines.”

While the scandals are causing headaches for the Obama administration now, the impact on the 2014 elections might not be severe for Democrats, said Politico reporter Jonathan Martin.

“I think the Benghazi story is largely confined to the political right,” he said, pointing out polls showing Independents have little awareness of the story. And if Independents see anything in the IRS scandal, it would likely be “incompetence” but not anything “nefarious.”

But among Republicans, “This helps fire up their base in a huge way because it underscores their worst fears about this president on the right,” he said.

Republican political strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson said the scandal ultimately lends credence towards the GOP view of government.

“I think the lingering effect is that it’s going to just give people more of a reason to believe that the government is not very competent at what they’re doing,” she said, “which sort of feeds the right when they say, why would you trust the federal government to do things.”

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