The Obama ‘scandals’: Petty or disastrous?

The American public is already tiring of a Congress that investigates and doesn’t legislate. Photo: Obama vs. Washington AP photo

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 — Barely six months into his second term, President Obama’s agenda seems derailed by the so-called scandals that have erupted. Two seem to be legitimate and one manufactured by Republicans, hoping to score points and undermine the administration’s credibility.

Right now the “scandals” appear to have some traction with the American public, but not as much as you would think watching the news, no matter where you point the clicker. The media is having a field day, however, especially on the Justice Department’s overreach in going after AP records and naming a Fox News reporter as a potential criminal co-conspirator in a search warrant. However, Americans hold the media in such low regard that they are not as disturbed by that as you would think or the media believes.

Congressman Darrell Issa AP photo

Benghazi has evolved into a “he said, she said” squabble and with Republicans playing fast and loose with the administration’s talking points, the public has begun to give it a big yawn.

But everyone hates the IRS. Who in history has ever loved a tax collector? And then to see conservative groups targeted (even though they probably did deserve deeper scrutiny for their political activities), to see Lois Lerner, the IRS administrator, take the Fifth like some Mafia guy, to learn that $50 million has been spent on conferences in the last three years as well line dancing lessons and playing at being Star Trek characters, and taxpayers of all political stripes are out for blood.

But just how serious is the damage to the Obama presidency? Pretty bad, but it’s his own fault. Because Obama is acting timid and not bold, by not striding through the charges and countercharges with a dauntless agenda of jobs and rebuilding America, he only encourages the perception that he is weaker than he really is.

Recent polls show that Americans care less about the eruption of “scandals” than then they do about the creation of jobs. The latest Quinnipiac poll, a very respected poll by both sides of the aisle, show that voters by 73 — 22 percent say that dealing with the economy and unemployment should be a higher priority than investigating the “scandals.”

The public was also asked which of the three “scandals” were the most important to them. After removing the economy and jobs from the equation, which is Americans’ top priority, you get these numbers:

1. IRS singling out conservative groups:  44%

2. Benghazi: 24%

3. DOJ going after journalists: 15%

In the case of Benghazi, 43 — 32 percent of those interviewed say that the Congressional investigations led by Republicans into how the administration handled the terrorist attack in Libya is  “just politics.”

And now, according to Forbes, the new Zogby poll shows that the Congressional hearings, investigations, calls for special prosecutors, and the firing of DOJ Attorney General Holder have not hurt President Obama’s popularity numbers. His approval rating stands once again at 53%, exactly where it was when he was elected seven months ago, actually up by 2 points from last month. He is even up by 5 points amongst Republicans.

So why is President Obama not marching across the nation’s stage with a spring in his step and an audacious plan to turn the economy around with construction jobs for our crumbling infrastructure? That would be a good place to start. And then he could dare the Republican Party to reject his job creation plan.

Yes, the little bits he has rolled out in the past week from tackling student loans to championing immigration reform to hobnobbing with Gov. Chris Christie form distractions from the frenzy in Washington, but they are small potatoes in comparison to being resolute about reviving a rather persistently anemic economy. And, yes, more people, now up to 39%, believe the country is headed in the right direction, which it is, but America really needs a president who does not let himself get sidetracked by the “scandal” du jour served up by the Republicans.

If President Obama is to salvage his second term, and even his legacy, he needs “to keep his eye on the sparrow.” In other words, pay attention, stay focused and not lose sight why he was elected and re-elected in the first place: to turn the economy around.

As for the likes of House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the President’s Republican foes, they are well on their way to overreach, just as they did with President Clinton. The American public is already tiring of a Congress that investigates and doesn’t legislate.

As for President Obama, he needs to shed the mantle of timidity. Otherwise it can quickly become a shroud, dooming his presidency. Enough of the mild mannered Clark Kent. It’s time to show your inner Superman, Mr. President.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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