Thursday, March 22, 2007

Scandals Until 2009 And Beyond

While the President fought vigorously to hold on to the reigns of power in 2004 and succeeded, it may have been a better plan to exit after just one term and avoid the nearly daily barrage of new charges, whistle blowers, and scandalous revelations that now fill the press. Many of these scuttlebutts which were only hinted at during the latter part of the first term are now open to the public.

Contorted pre-invasion intelligence; perverted reconstruction contracts and oversight in Iraq; revisions of scientific information; abuse of civil liberties on the basis of extra security; breaching a CIA agent's cover for political retribution; secret illegal wire-tapping; the FBI and National Security Letters; and the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys for political motives. All of these might have been swept under the rug or not have happened had President Bush lost. Yet now they all sit in a pile on the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue awaiting a Congressional investigation, of which there are many coming.

Of the recent two-term Presidents, all have had their most serious issues in the second term (which makes sense, since if a President has their worst issue during the first term, they are more than likely not to be rewarded with a second 4-year term). Reagan, Clinton, and Nixon, took severe bruisings and suffered humiliation while presiding over the last four years and obviously in the case of Nixon, not seeing the last years at all. On the surface with President George W. Bush, the tight seal that the Administration kept on all political and operational details prevented the public and Congress from knowing what it was doing. As the lid has come off (most recently with the I. Lewis Libby trial, the Justice Department's rebuke of the FBI's handling of National Security Letters, and Justice's own dilemma with the firing of non-compliant attorneys) the White House must concentrate more and more effort on defending itself and less time from actually accomplishing political goals.

If this near-term history is a measuring stick, the modern President who successfully claims a second term has at most five years of time to move the national debate - beyond that there is little room left to breathe before the subpoenas come strolling in. This President should see a fair share of them quite soon.

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