Are Democrats really willing to endure another scandal-ridden presidency?

Barack Obama has come under relentless attack since 2009. That’s the new normal in presidential politics. Opponents bore in heavily on George W. Bush too. The last president who received any substantial deference from the other party in Congress was Ronald Reagan, and he didn’t receive much. In this difficult environment, President Obama’s high personal integrity provided a bulwark of security for his party. Whatever policy failures have occurred, whatever errors and mistakes of judgment, nobody not lurking in the fever swamps has ever questioned that this president is acting to serve the public interest as he sees it. That wasn’t the case in the Bill Clinton presidency, and it will be even less the case in a Hillary Clinton presidency…

When a Republican (full disclosure) queries Democrats as to whether they really wish to “bring the circus back to town,” the question is typically dismissed as “concern trolling.” Translated into plain English: “You’re just trying to score a partisan point, it’s a trap, nothing here I need to think about.” The best rebuttal to that kind of self-blinding comes from Malcolm X: “I’m for the truth, whoever says it.”

It’s not trolling if it’s true, and nothing is more true in presidential politics right now than this: The whiff of corruption and deceit will linger about the Clinton candidacy to voting day—and waft through the corridors of a Clinton presidency even if the greater potential strength of the Democratic presidential coalition overcomes the bad odor around its candidate. Yet politics won’t stop on the first Tuesday of November 2016. The truths exposed about the Clinton candidacy will shape and even define a Clinton presidency. That should matter as much to those who hope for a popular and effective Democratic administration after 2016 as to those who hope to prevent one.