Obama’s Bad News Power Rankings: 6.15.2013

The Guardian hit the nail on the head this week while analyzing polls this week: The most damaging effects of the current spate of scandals is the erosion of trust in government.  Trusting government is the basis of  the President’s agenda.

  1. NSA Verizon. (New!)  Surveillance is the most serious of these scandals, according to Rasmussen polls, which gives this one the edge.
  2. IRS. (Last week: 2) There hasn’t been much new news this week, but Americans still care.
  3. NSA PRISM. (Last week: 1) Edward Snowden pushes this lower on the list, as does the fact that many reasonable Americans feel like spying on foreigners is an acceptable counter-terrorism measure.
  4. Benghazi.  (Last week: 4)  Americans may not care as much about it, but they do think that there was a cover up surrounding the events in Benghazi.  Worse, they believe the cover up was politically motivated.
  5. DOJ. (Last week: 3)  The Rasmussen poll linked above shows that Americans find this among the least serious scandals, but bet on ongoing media coverage.


Obama’s Bad News Power Rankings: 6.08.2013

What’s worse than spending a week rehashing an old scandal? Spending a week rehashing old scandals while dealing with a new one.

  1. NSA targets everybody. (New!)  The President’s explanation that the concept of domestic is critical for national security makes the assumption that America looks at him the way they looked at his predecessor in 2003.  Claiming that broad oversight powers are necessary doesn’t sound so good after the public has spent weeks of hearing about flouting First Amendment rights, picking on political opponents with the IRS, and inconsistent stories about the attack in Benghazi.  Further, the wording of the President’s response – that there must be a choice between rights and safety – won’t help allay the public’s fears.
  2. IRS targets the Tea Party.  (Last week: 4)  The good news for the IRS?  The expensive and idiotic videos, coupled with news about the opulent conferences, give credence to the Administration’s claim that the IRS is not malicious, just incompetent.
  3. DOJ targets the Press.  (Last week: 1)  Senator Joe Manchin suggested that Eric Holder ought to think about resigning.  That someone in his own party would even bring this up demonstrates the bipartisan misgivings about seizing phone records from reporters.
  4. State Department targets the truth about Benghazi.  (Last week: 3)  Hillary Clinton’s approval ratings are sinking.  What difference, at this point, does that make?  It’s evidence that the American public is highly skeptical of the Administration.
  5. Obamacare targets American wallets.  (Last week: 2)  Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said this week that the Obamacare-induced hikes in insurance rates actually represent reductions in cost.  Yes, she did actually say that.

Wild Card: GOP targets Facebook.  The hiring of new CTO Andy Barkett from Facebook means the RNC may actually have the tools to start organizing around some of these scandals.

Obama’s Bad News Power Rankings, 5.23.2013

If you participate in social media, you’ve probably heard talk of the Obama scandals.  TargetPoint released this graphic showing  what people are talking about, and how they’re taking it.  The news is not good for the current administration:


Thus, this week’s Bad News Power Rankings practically write themselves:

  1. IRS vs. Tea Partiers.  (Last week: 2) The parade of Administration officials who either change their story or won’t tell it moved this one up the list.  Rasmussen reports 60% of Americans feel it’s pretty likely that other agencies also targeted conservative groups, meaning that people don’t view the IRS’s actions as a one-off.
  2. Benghazi.  (Last week: 3) Amazingly, independents believe in an Obama Administration cover-up more than Republicans.
  3. DOJ vs. AP.  (Last week: 1) This one has been relatively quiet this week, but still makes reporters sympathetic.
  4. Fast and Furious.  Of course, it would be nice to say that the current scandals have raised the voting public’s awareness of this previous scandal.  But let’s be honest: it’s probably the upcoming movie, “6 Fast, 6 Furious.”
  5. Keystone XL.  Pundits love to trash Republicans for “playing to the base,” but Congress may force the Administration’s hand on this wedge issue for Democrats’ extreme environmentalist supporters.

Scandals! The Bad News Power Rankings

Jay Carney faced the press today, and… Yikes!  That was rough!

On some level, you have to respect Carney.  He could have woken up, faxed in a resignation Pat Riley style, rented an office near Farragut Square and started counting money.   Instead, he chose to answer questions in the face of Scandalpalooza.  And even if he had a rough day, none of the scandals are impeachable.

They are damaging, though.  In fact, the last week and a half has heaped layer after layer of bad news on the White House doorstep.  The mid-term elections are now 18 months away, and the window for putting up any meaningful legislative wins is maybe 10-12 months.  President will have a tougher time advancing his agenda while responding to all the bad news.  Ranked below are the President’s top speed bumps (that we know about so far today), with 1 being the most disruptive to the President’s agenda and 5 the least:

  1. DOJ vs. AP  – People appreciate unfairness, so the IRS scandal will have legs.  But no reporter will have any trouble understanding the First Amendment threats posed by the Justice Department skimming reporters’ phone records.
  2. IRS vs. Tea Party Groups – Political players wielding government power against their enemies is easy to understand, and makes for a simple story to write.
  3. Benghazi – Really, what’s the worst part?  The administration’s keystone response to the embassy attack?  The lies about what caused the attack?  The fact that it looks like the President and his underlings were less than forthcoming due to the impending election?  This is pretty complex – for scandals looking to catch on, complex is bad.
  4. Gosnell – During the election cycle, progressive groups tried (largely successfully) to reframe the abortion debate by talking about narrow hypotheticals.  From the White House’s perspective, the silver lining of the week’s tri-scandals is that it takes mainstream attention away from the Gosnell verdict.  It will help motivate pro-life advocates, but its broader messaging implications will be muted.
  5. Obamacare – Small business owners are already feeling the pinch.  Kathleen Sebelius has been doing her “Secretary BoJangles” routine trying to fund advertising and encourage signups (like it’s some kind of high school club).

(If I missed anything, or if you disagree, leave a comment or yell at me on Twitter.)