THE VIEW FROM HERE
Despite the wave of scandals and negative developments besetting the Obama Administration, there is no particular evidence of a sharp drop in Mr. Obama’s current popularity. This is not to say, however, that the White House has avoided long term issues and problems. As this is written, President Obama’s approval rating in the Real Clear Politics average is about 49 percent and his disapproval rating is about 47 percent. This is pretty much the same as it has been for months after the President came down from his post election high ratings. Some recent polls are lower, but others are stable or even higher. These continuing fairly high numbers are a cautionary note for Republicans who are calling for drastic action, up to Mr. Obama’s impeachment. In fact, the country is currently not that worked up about the scandals, and would probably turn against politicians advocating drastic action.Still, the negative stories could have a significant effect over time. For one thing, the investigations put the Administration off message and threaten to make the failures, mistakes and coverups the hallmark of the government. For example, in the Benghazi matter, we still do not have a clear idea of the role of the President during the attacks (or even where he was), how the false talking points about the anti-Muslim film were developed and who, as alleged, gave the order to stand down to potential rescuers and what the basis was for the order. This does not speak well of White House leadership. There are other effects. Even assuming that the White House had no direct involvement in the targeting of political conservatives by the Internal Revenue Service, these revelations could not have come at a worse time for the Administrations, effort to put into effect its controversial health plan. The Internal Revenue Service will play a significant role in enforcing penalties against both employers not maintaining a health plan and uninsured individuals and Republicans are sure to propose legislation prohibiting the discredited agency from playing a role in health care. This may prove hard to resist. Also, the heavy scrutiny by the Justice Department of the Associated Press and now of Fox News reporter James Risen, which have both been widely criticized across the political spectrum, could change the tone about reporting on this White House. While most of the press corps is no doubt ideologically sympathetic to Mr. Obama and his administration, it would not at all be surprising if there were considerably more skepticism in the reporting after an institution dear to the hearts of reporters, press freedom, is perceived as coming under attack. Finally, buried in a recent poll by CNN is a report that the popularity of the Tea Party has shot up, from 29 percent in March to 37 percent, presumably something of an expression of sympathy for its increased and unwarranted scrutiny by the IRS. While a plurality was still unfavorable to the Tea Party, any revival of its fortunes to something like the levels of 2010 would be bad news indeed for the White House. The last thing the Administration needs is highly energized and organized opponents. So, while Republicans should be careful not to jump the gun, as they arguably did in the Clinton impeachment scandals, Mr. Obama may well have a difficult time escaping the lasting effects of the scandals and controversies of this spring.