President Barack Obama is squarely in the epicenter of a political storm – a mounting controversy that Republicans hope will tarnish Obama’s legacy as America’s first black commander-in-chief.
As I was walking along Capitol Hill last week, a place where Republicans have never been particularly respectful of Obama, I overheard conservatives whispering gleefully about Obama’s political demise. One gentleman with a southern accent told a colleague that Obama is “on the ropes” – a common boxing term which means that the opponent has been rendered lifeless from relentless blows to the body.
Some are privately hoping to craft Obama’s political obituary in the months ahead and several misguided Republicans actually claim that impeaching Obama is a possibility.
Insane. What exactly has Obama done wrong? What laws has the president been accused of breaking? None. As former President Bill Clinton likes to say: “This dog won’t hunt.”
The president’s critics, like sharks circling prey after smelling blood in the water, feel that Obama can’t withstand the recent trifecta crisis: The killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11; the targeted IRS review of conservative groups; and the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records of Associated Press journalists.
These three unrelated scandals are likely causing some White House advisers many sleepless nights as Republicans continue to pound Obama for what they call hypocrisy and failed leadership. Did some members of the president’s senior staff show bad judgment? Yes, but none of these scandals have been directly linked to Obama.
Still, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, told reporters that impeachment Of Obama is not a far-fetched notion.
“It’s certainly a possibility,” Chaffetz said. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table. I’m not out there touting that, but I think this gets to the highest levels of our government and integrity and honesty are paramount.”
That’s completely absurd.
Republicans are hell-bent on blocking Obama’s legislative agenda for the next three years anyway, so these recent scandals give conservatives what they consider a legitimate reason to go after the president with their proverbial pitchforks.
In fact, GOP think tanks have crafted letters urging lawmakers to block every piece of legislation that Obama brings to the House floor and spend the next three years opposing the president’s policies. Basically, they are advising GOP congressional leaders not to work. What a waste of taxpayer money: paying Republicans on Capitol Hill to chill for three more years.
Of the three scandals, however, the most troubling is the Justice Department’s seizure of AP’s phone records which gives the appearance of violating AP’s civil liberties and goes against Obama’s public belief that government should support a free press in our society.
This is a potentially problematic for Obama since the scandal did happen on his watch, but it’s not insurmountable. So what can Obama do to manage this mess, get past these scandals, and restore integrity to government?
The president can continue to speak his truth and stay focused on an agenda to help improve the quality of life of Americans – and black Americans — who are still struggling to make ends meet and who are looking to Obama for hope.
Americans don’t seem to be particularly alarmed by these scandals: A new CNN poll shows that Obama’s approval rating is holding steady at 53 percent even during what Republicans are calling the worst two weeks of the president’s second term in office.
Obama’s vision for America has not changed. In fact, the White House says it will only dedicate 10 percent of its time to dealing with these debacles and will continue to focus on the big picture: putting people back to work, providing adequate health care for those in need, building more affordable housing, and lobbying to fund more education initiatives.
That’s real leadership.