Now that we’re past the Battle of New Hampshire and can return to some non-primary news for a while, it might be a good time to catch up on some other pressing questions of the day. One good candidate would be to find out whether or not David Brooks has moved to Colorado and got himself one of those fancy medical marijuana cards. Now, I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it’s at least worth checking into after his recent New York Times column titled, I Miss Barack Obama. The title is somewhat tongue in cheek, but it includes this gem which can’t be overlooked.
The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton. We’ve had very little of that from Obama. He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude.
Again, I’m not saying there’s any basis for arguing that Brooks has a history of dipping into the wacky weed, but this article at CNN today does indicate that people who partake tend to have memory problems later in life. And memory problems certainly seem to be on display here. For a quick walk down Lack of Memory Lane, we turn to Jim Geraghty at National Review.
Fast and Furious. The IRS scandal. The $2 billion spent building Healthcare.gov. The Veterans Administration letting veterans die waiting for care. The Office of Personnel Management hacking. Lying about Bowe Berghdahl. “Companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter, more prosperous future.”
Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter.”
The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.”
That’s not even the end of the list. What is Brooks thinking here? I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some sort of gut level, reflexive impulse which infects the entire media when it comes to presidents. (Or at least Democrat presidents.) It seems as if there’s a tendency to try to whitewash anything troubling and focus on whatever can be painted as positive and historic as the Oval Office occupant prepares to ride off into retirement. To suggest that the Obama administration has even been below average in the number of scandals being investigated is laughable on the face of it.
We have had some relatively scandal free presidents in the past, though none are without blemish. The real irony here is how Brooks calls out Reagan as an example of a presidency consumed by scandal. The one example he cites – Iran-contra – was certainly newsworthy, but beyond that what was there really which qualified? His handling of the air traffic controller strike? Not really. There were some scandals in the EPA even back then, but that seems to just be part of the basic fabric of the agency. I suppose you could count the affairs of Melvyn Paisley, the assistant Navy Secretary, but he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and was quickly dismissed. Compared to the laundry list of scandals surrounding the Obama administration like a cloud, Reagan was pretty much an alter boy.
Sadly, for those who live long enough to look back on the Obama administration twenty years from now, most of this will be forgotten by the press if I’m any sort of prognosticator. He’ll be the historic First Black President who passed Obamacare and ended the wars. And contemporary authors like Brooks will be summoned up to comment on how remarkably scandal free these salad days were.