At Politico Alexander Burns and John Harris make the following observation:
For five years, this president has been making the case that a growing and activist government has good intentions and can carry these intentions out with competence. Conservatives have warned that government is dangerous, and even good intentions get bungled in the execution. In different ways, the IRS uproar, the Justice Department leak investigations, the Benghazi tragedy and the misleading attempts to explain it, and the growing problems with implementation of health care reform all bolster the conservative worldview.
To stain reputations, presidential controversies usually need some kind of powerful connection to the style and values of the person occupying the Oval Office. Watergate was not a random scandal — it flowed directly from President Richard M. Nixon’s paranoia and contempt for law. No one who knew Bill Clinton in the decades before he became president would have been surprised that his second-term scandal involved weaknesses of the flesh. Under George W. Bush, the misjudgments at the outset of the Iraq War reflected an instinct for certitude and a disdain for dissenting views that started at the top.
In Obama’s case, the narrative emerging from this tumultuous week goes something like this: None of these messes would have happened under a president less obsessed with politics, less insulated within his own White House and less trusting of government as an institution.
Note how that dovetails with the “undercutting your own message” point I made a few days ago.
It might not be clear from what I’ve written but I honestly want the president to succeed. I want that to happen by his doing things that succeed rather than for the things that he does to succeed because he does them (if you understand the distinction I’m trying to make). The emergence of the theme of a president who wants to give broad discretionary powers to the federal government and then free them from oversight, hoping for the best is not a move in the right direction.