A mountain of polls suggest that President Obama faces a tough re-election fight. But if he loses, says Jonathan Alter at Bloomberg, it will be due to the weak economy, not scandal. Indeed, Alter says, one of the most remarkable but overlooked assets Obama brought to the White House is his honesty. Is Obama the most "scandal-free" president the country has had in decades?
No. Team Obama has been plagued by scandal: "Honest, schmonest," says Tom Blumer at News Busters. For one thing, Obama "contrived" the story about his mother's deathbed fight with her insurers — a tall tale the president fed the public innumerable times during the fight over health care reform. And it's hard to see how anyone can call Obama scandal-free after the Solyndra boondoggle and the federal Fast and Furious operation that put guns in the hands of Mexican drug lords. If anything, Obama is giving Americans "scandal fatigue."
"Jonathan Alter's blinders: 'White House free of scandal'; Obama asset is that 'he's honest'
Next to Bush, Obama is squeaky clean: The Right is desperate to smear this administration, as we've seen by its "ludicrous charges that Obama was born in Kenya," says Myrddin at America Blog. But Obama really has avoided getting tangled up in a "single serious scandal." One reason is that his "administration has cut people loose at the slightest hint of scandal (remember Shirley Sherrod)." Another is that George W. Bush "set the bar to corruption and scandal so high" that there was no way Obama could match him.
"Three years without a serious scandal makes Obama administration a historical oddity"
It all depends on how you define scandal: Obama is scandal-free if you define scandal as sexual impropriety or overt corruption, says Emptywheel. But ask liberals, and they'll say Obama lied about supporting a public health insurance option, "smothered what was left of rule of law" by protecting Bush's torture system, and concocted "new ways to bail out the banksters from the consequences of their crimes." This scandalous record may actually be one of the biggest strikes against Obama in 2012.
"The scandal is that Jonathan Alter doesn't see the scandal"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- The case for voting (even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich)
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- Bob Odenkirk's 6 favorite books
Subscribe to the Week