Joe Gandelman: Obama’s 2nd term curse
You might say that May 10, 2013 was when the "second term curse" officially struck President Barack Obama — and that May 13 was when it flattened him. Obama’s administration has been hit with a triple whammy blast from a massive political stun gun.
May 10th was the day when ABC News provided virtual proof that the Benghazi talking points did not totally come from the intelligence community but were revised 12 times, mostly by the State Department. Next came the news that the IRS singled out conservative groups for scrutiny. Then, three days later came the news that the Justice Department obtained two months of phone records from Associated Press (AP) reporters and editors but never told the AP.
"If the three-strikes rule were in effect, President Obama would be heading for the dugout, bat in hand," John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker. The AP scandal, he said, raises two basic issues: "What were they thinking? And who, precisely, were they?"
By the time President Barack Obama gave a press conference, some punditry implied he would say: "Now, I want to make this perfectly clear...." The problem with the Obama’s press conference: he actually did NOT make everything perfectly clear. Reuters ran a photo showing a teardrop under Obama’s eye. Websites: was Obama crying? Answer: it was just one tear, so that’s unlikely. But, hey, it sure fits in well with the ongoing media narrative, doesn’t it?
Yes, it’s second-term curse time. To paraphrase a nursery rhyme, all of the DNC’s spinners and all of the White House’s men won’t be able to again put the Obama administration back to where it was two weeks ago. There has been a perceptible shift. You can’t EXACTLY say Obama’s second-term agenda is dead in the water — but it’s like a partially reeled in fish that was hit over the head with an oar.
You could say in these kinds of scandals that "the jury isn’t in" — but partisan juries seldom are out long; it’s the general populace that may balk at rushing to judgment. A new Public Policy Polling polls finds 41 percent of Republicans think Benghazi is the biggest scandal in U.S history, versus 23 percent of Democrats. The general public trusts Hillary Clinton more than Congressional Republicans (49 percent to 39 percent).
As much of the media (and most assuredly the conservative new media) suggests Obama may be toast or on the run, the National Journal’s respected Charlie Cook suggests hyperventilating media and partisans media might take a deep breath:
"At this point, the significance of each is more in the eye of the beholder," he wrote. "Liberals and Democrats tend to de-emphasize both affairs, while many conservatives and Republicans think that each rises to the level of impeachment. It will take time to know which end of this ridiculously broad spectrum of assessments proves to be more accurate. Whether the White House is in Democratic or Republican hands, we have to put up with a degree of selective outrage from one side and the turning of a blind eye from the other."
But expect consequences.
Could the Democrats lose the Senate and the GOP keep the House in 2014 because the Republican base will turn out in droves and Democrats will likely do what they seem to do when it looks like they will lose? Will Democrats stay home (and complain later about the mean, old Republicans)? And could the Republican base and talk show hosts then demand Congressional Republicans find grounds — any grounds — to impeach Obama?"
If the country’s first African-American President was impeached due to a power-politics, partisan vote not justified by facts, then it would not only be one for the history books, but the Republican Party will have most-assuredly rebranded itself in the worst possible way. It would be demographic suicide.
Hard times ahead for the White House; great times ahead for Fox News ratings.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.