Pundit: Obama Has Avoided ‘Second-Term Curse’; GOP Has Helped Him By ‘Transparently Politicizing’ Their Investigations

Bill Scher runs a website called Liberal Oasis, which makes it unsurprising that his Monday RealClearPolitics column celebrated President Obama’s avoidance (so far) of the “second-term curse” that supposedly afflicted George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and some of their predecessors in the White House.

Scher exults that Obama “has not been knocked off course by scandal” and lauds him for “master[ing] the art of scandal management, while his Republican opponents lost credibility by transparently politicizing every investigation…Instead of following the facts before drawing conclusions, [Republicans] proclaim the worst—and then fail to prove their allegations. That’s why the pursuits of wrongdoing in Fast and Furious, Solyndra, the IRS audits and Benghazi have all fizzled.”

From Scher’s piece (bolding added):

Presidential scholars have a term to describe the typical experience of a chief executive who wins re-election to the White House. It’s called the “second-term curse”…

At the risk of jinxing our current president with one year left to go, he appears to have broken the curse…

…Obama, unlike all of his second-term predecessors in the last 40 years, has not been knocked off course by scandal…

…Obama may have pushed the boundaries of what he can do via executive action, but those are constitutional questions that can, should, and are being adjudicated in court. He never came…close to being charged with a crime.

Obama also mastered the art of scandal management, while his Republican opponents lost credibility by transparently politicizing every investigation. Transgressions are inevitable at some level in any administration, and Obama was prepared to minimize fallout. He was quick to force out compromised underlings, including Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, and knew when to patiently work through a problem, such as with the initial HealthCare.gov website glitches.

In contrast, Republicans never learned how to calibrate their reactions. Instead of following the facts before drawing conclusions, they proclaim the worst—and then fail to prove their allegations. That’s why the pursuits of wrongdoing in Fast and Furious, Solyndra, the IRS audits and Benghazi have all fizzled.

Obama also avoided the trap of second-term hubris. Before Katrina walloped Louisiana, Bush’s political capital had already taken a hit when he overreached with his failed proposal to partially privatize Social Security…

Love him or hate him, the man is not idle and his second term never was plagued by atrophy, let alone scandal. Future presidents, in either party, will do themselves a favor by following the Obama model.

Piggybacking on Scher’s column, Washington Monthly blogger Nancy LeTourneau mused, “Barack and Michelle Obama walked into the White House knowing that they carried a big burden on their shoulders. This is where the Jackie Robinson comparison applies. Any scandal that erupted concerning the first African American family to occupy the office would not merely be seen as another example of the ‘second term curse.’ It would be twisted into confirmation of the racist stereotypes too many Americans still hold about African Americans in general…Just as Jackie Robinson broke down the color line in professional baseball, the [Obamas] have done all they can to keep the door open for the second African American president.”

Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals Fast and Furious IRS Targets Tea Party Solyndra Race Issues Racism Libya Washington Monthly Real Clear Politics History Bill Scher Barack Obama Michelle Obama


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