Garance Franke-Ruta compares Obama’s bureaucratic scandals to Clinton’s rivetingly human ones:
The main difference is this: In contrast to the highly personal nature of the Clinton scandals, none of the so-called Obama scandals involve direct actions by the president or his wife, let alone their romantic or financial dealings before or during their time in office. Instead, the controversies swirling around the administration all involve the conduct of individuals within the federal government overseen by Obama as the head of the executive branch.
Well: duh. Meanwhile, Charles Franklin rightly recommends patience when assessing the impact of recent events on Obama’s approval numbers:
In the rush to find instant effects of events, we look at data before there is enough evidence. But more important, the enduring political impact of events, if there are any, are not usually things we see in a week or even two but rather shifts in trends that set approval on a new trajectory, whether up or down. Rare events, such as the killing of bin Laden do produce almost immediate jumps in approval, but those events usually prove fleeting and the trend rapidly returns to its previous track. The real test of the impact of events over the past two weeks will come in six months when we can look back and see if May 8 represented a turning point after which the trend in approval shifted, either up or down, with lasting consequences. Such enduring shifts are the events that reshape presidencies, not short term bounces.
I agree. And, of course, we cannot know if there’s something more there than has yet to meet the eye. But the critical issue will also be the economy – which buoyed Clinton in his darkest hours – and the failure or success of the GOP in actually proposing some solutions to some pressing problems that can actually stand a chance of getting done. In other words, it’s not just Obama and the “scandals”. It’s the general political climate that could make these grow in intensity or peter out.