Obama finesses sex scandal questions and tongue lashes Republicans who have ripped Susan Rice over Benghazi

President Obama holds full-scale news conferences about as often as his generals ignore the urges of their privates.
But he held one today, basking in the warmth of his reelection but hardly bubbling with a peacock’s arrogance.
After all, he knows only too well that there are Republicans who harbor a red-eyed hatred for him.
As you can imagine, the widening sex scandal that ensnared his former CIA director and top military commander in Afghanistan came up. Leave it to those pesky news hounds to dig in the dirt like a bunch of potato farmers.
Obama said he has seen no evidence that national security was threatened by the scandal. Granted, what else would he say? Scream that our security was breached so severely that we should all start studying Arabic?
The hellacious trauma of the tangled email scandal that cost David Petraeus his CIA career and led to an investigation of Gen. John Allen has disrupted Obama’s plans to keep a narrow focus on the economy coming out of the election.
And it has overshadowed his efforts to build support behind his reelection pledge to make the wealthy pay more in taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.
As they used to say in the 1960s, a bummer.
But the president did manage to reaffirm his belief that the U.S. can’t afford to continue tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a key sticking point in negotiations with Republicans over the impending ‘‘fiscal cliff.’’
Obama also defiantly told critics of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a potential candidate to lead the State Department, that they should ‘‘go after me’’ — not her — if they have issues with the administration’s handling of the deadly attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. His words were aimed at Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have vowed to block Rice’s potential nomination.
Easy for Obama to say now that he has a second term tucked safely in his back pocket.
The president splashed some rain on the parade of critics who warn that his relatively free reign the second time around will have him going hard to his left.
In an interesting note, he said he was “more than familiar with the literature on presidential overreach in second terms.”
Of course, a cynic could note that Obama had presidential under-reach in his first term.
Finally, Obama also cited strong Hispanic turnout on Election Day in making a more explicit pitch for dealing with illegal immigrants that includes a “pathway for legal status.”
The Hispanic vote helped out Obama on Election Day. Now the day has come for him to help out them.
Quid pro quo as they say in Latin, not Spanish.

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