“To be clear, referent power does not work through order, command or threat,” Nichols explained. “Instead, it works through suggestion and the creativity of the fawning admirer.”

We don’t know yet how involved the White House was in today’s scandals. Yet, at a minimum, they suggest a government — from the State Department to the CIA, the military leadership, the IRS and Justice — filled with sycophants under the sway of Obama’s referent power.

Since Obama was elected president, the political right has been ridiculed for questioning his choice of people to fill administrative posts, creation of a quasi-Cabinet of policy “czars” to skirt Senate confirmation, heavy-handed executive orders, bullying of Supreme Court justices during a State of the Union address, unconstitutional recess appointments and use of the presidency as a celebrity magnet to enhance his image.

The knee-jerk press reaction against the right was to blame any criticism of Obama on racial prejudice, thereby widening the country’s racial divide and projecting an us-against-them narrative.