President Obama didn’t take the bait when a reporter asked how he felt about the comparison some of his critics were making about the scandals in his administration with those that happened when Richard Nixon was in the White House. The question capped a weeklong orgy of rhetoric with Republicans assailing abuses of power at the IRS and Justice Department, and the media all but writing off Obama’s second term as a colossal management failure.
Obama didn’t protest “I’m not Nixon,” which would have echoed the former president who once famously said in response to a question, “I’m not a crook.” He replied in the measured way that is his trademark, “You can go ahead and read the history, I think, and draw your own conclusions.” For the record, Nixon headed what can fairly be called a criminal conspiracy; some 40 people in his administration went to jail and did hard time.
The fact that a trio of scandals hitting roughly at the same time took on the aura of Watergate says more about the way our media work today than about any corrosive lapses in the White House or personality flaws in the president. “It’s fine to take a pounding for a couple of news cycles to figure out what you’re going to do,” says Chris Lehane, an alumnus of the Clinton White House, who says the president with his remarks Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden is “out of the bunker” and has made “the pivot” to where it will be harder for the Republicans to use the scandals to thwart his agenda.
Obama swatted away the controversies eroding his authority and credibility, linking Benghazi to his budget request for more money for embassy security, effectively shifting the onus to the GOP, and he made a compelling case on national-security grounds for Justice’s action in pursuing a leak investigation. “I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as commander in chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.
More articles from The Daily Beast:
© 2013 Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC