President Obama’s Week: Notes On A Scandal(s)

on May 17 2013 3:24 PM
President Obama’s Week: Notes On A Scandal(s)

It’s been quite the busy week for President Barack Obama and his administration.  There have been the conflicting reports about the Benghazi incident, the Justice Department’s nabbing of phone records -- both personal and private -- of AP reporters and editors, and the IRS singling out conservative groups.

Scandal has been the word of the week. The president has also been compared to another scandal-plagued president, Richard Nixon, but some think that's taking it way too far.

Seriously, Obama Isn’t Nixon

In Thursday’s editorial from the Washington Post, the editorial board outlines why Obama is not at all reminiscent of Nixon.

“Nixon, in a series of crimes that collectively came to be known as Watergate, directed from the White House and Justice Department a concerted campaign against those he perceived as political enemies, in the process subverting the FBI, the IRS, other government agencies and the electoral process to his nefarious purposes. Mr. Obama has done nothing of the kind. Nor is there much to support a lesser ‘unifying theory’ of this week’s scandals, which is that together they prove Mr. Obama guilty of a grand overreach of federal power.”

President Obama’s Response, Or Lack Thereof

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan addresses the president’s general attitude toward what she called “the worst Washington scandal since Watergate” and discusses why the week’s incidents are a threat to the “basic integrity of our government.”

“The president speaks in the passive voice," Noonan says. "He attempts to act out indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that’s he’s being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it on his plate.”

What Scandal?

Ezra Klein for the Washington Post describes what constitutes a scandal, and then tells us how the scandals are falling apart. He’ll take you through the alleged scandals, but here’s a precursor.

“The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions. Government wrongdoing is boring. Scandals can bring down presidents, decide elections and revive down-and-out political parties. Scandals can dominate American politics for months at a time. On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more pad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But -- and this is a key qualification -- absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough.”

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