After the re-election, everything seems to be going wrong in the White House. U.S. President Barack Obama grapples with scandals. Is the fate of George W. Bush blossoming for him?
Politically, Barack Obama will be very under the weather when he arrives in Berlin on June 18. His government has to battle political scandals, each of which by itself would be a problem for him. Taken together, however, they become a threatening liability.
It is a matter of six similar topics. First, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service thwarted the applications of conservative election groups for nonprofit status and further used the applications as reason to track these groups. Second, the Department of Justice had Associated Press telephones put under surveillance. Third, suspicion is growing that the White House and the Department of State tried to cover up insufficient security measures for the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi attacked by al-Qaida.
Those are the current cases. Added to them are the failed operation against Mexican drug cartels, conjecture about failing security authorities before the attack in Boston and a growing uproar in left-liberal and right-conservative circles about the government’s announcement of plans to make drone deployment a legal possibility in case of emergency.
The second-term curse — the rule that after re-election to the White House, everything that can go wrong will go wrong — appears to be hitting Obama.
At the moment, the most dangerous for the president at the moment are the scandals concerning the conservative election groups and the AP. Revenue offices that, in an election year, investigate applicants from the opposition’s circles using every trick in the book, demanding access to internal minutes of meetings or wanting to know who the political and personal friends of the applicants are — that would be a first-rate political issue in Germany as well.
This data then also found its way into Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and into Obama-friendly media. In a country whose aversion to powerful federal institutions in general and especially to federal taxes is legendary, such revelations are explosive.
That is no less valid for the surveillance of the AP. The Democrats used media scandals concerning military breaches of security to bring the government of George W. Bush into serious difficulties. Now, their own attorney general appears to have disregarded the constitution on just such an occasion. Well-known Democrats have protested against this together with Republicans.
Is Obama Following Bush’s Example?
That is risky for Obama. The congressional election next November will decide whether he will still be able to realize any of his ambitious plans by the end of his term. At present, it looks as if this election could end as devastatingly for the president as the 2006 congressional election did for Bush.
His second term of office became a disaster because the Republican Party distanced itself from the president under the impression of a change of mood. Obama could be on the way to meeting with a similar destiny.
That cannot leave Germany cold. The situations in Syria and Israel continue to escalate; there is evidence that Obama’s domestic weakening will impact the possibility for the West to exert influence there. The same is valid for negotiations about free world trade.
In a time when all domestic politics are always also world politics, such scandals are a tragic event. And no matter what comes out of the investigations, one thing is certain: Barack Obama’s domestic scandals are needless. None of them is the result of unavoidable political developments; they are merely the fruit of human failure and political incompetence.