Secret Service, GSA and soldier photos overshadow Obama’s message, feed bad public perceptions
(Susan Walsh, File/ Associated Press ) – FILE – In this June 30, 2010 file photo, Senate Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sessions told reporters Thursday, the president should take responsibility for the Secret Service, GSA and energy company Solyndra scandals and insist on a government culture in which taxpayer dollars are not wasted. He said, “I don’t sense that this president has shown that kind of managerial leadership.”
Source: AP, 4-19-12
It isn’t Mitt Romney who’s giving Barack Obama fits as the president pivots to re-election mode. It’s those federal bureaucrats carousing in Las Vegas, the Secret Service consorting with Columbian prostitutes and U.S. soldiers posing with bloody enemy corpses.
The scandals are taking a toll. They are distracting embarrassments that are dominating public attention while Obama seeks to focus on difficulties abroad and jobs at home. And they are giving Republicans an opportunity to question his competence and leadership, an opening for Romney in a race so close that any advantage might make a difference.
Even if the Democratic president escapes being defined by these flare-ups, they still feed a story line that can erode public confidence in Washington institutions, fuel a perception of federal excess and frustrate Obama’s argument that government can be a force for good.
The White House response has been textbook — a mix of outrage and deflection.
“The president has been crystal clear since he was a candidate about the standards that he insists be met by those who work for the federal government and on behalf of the American people and for the American people,” says White House spokesman Jay Carney….READ MORE
The GSA and Secret Service scandals: A political problem for President Obama?
Source: WaPo, 4-18-12
It’s been a rough few weeks for the federal government.
First, the lavish spending of the General Services Administration on a wild Las Vegas retreat came to light. Then came the Secret Service scandal where a number of agents advancing the President’s trip to Colombia were caught with prostitutes.
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 18: Members of Bankrupting America dress as a clown and a mindreader as they hand out “resumes” to make fun of a hearing on General Services Administration (GSA) today in front of Dirksen Senate Office Building April 18, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)The question that’s largely been left out of the coverage of the twin scandals — in which new details seem to emerge daily if not hourly — is whether they carry any political danger for the man at the head of the federal government: President Obama.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is starting to ramp up his rhetoric on the subject, suggesting that President Obama needs to take more forceful action.
“I’d clean house,” Romney told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday morning. “The right thing to do is to remove people who have violated the public trust and have put their play time and their personal interests ahead of the interests of the nation.”
(Romney was more measured on the Secret Service during another radio interview in Ohio today; “We are a nation, after all, under law and the president has confidence in the head of the Secret Service, as do I,” Romney said.)
Romney’s comments come less than 24 hours after White House press secretary Jay Carney addressed the twin scandals. Said Carney:
“The President believes that everyone who serves the American people by working for this government needs to hold themselves to the highest standards of public service. And there’s no point in comparing the singular incidents of one agency to another, but that principle is one he made clear during the campaign that he would bring to the office. It is a principle that he clearly set forth early on his presidency both in the words that he spoke and the actions that he took, and it is a principle, as I think was made clear in the wake of the GSA incident, that he believes should be enforced.”
White House officials note that the GSA Administrator resigned, her two top deputies were fired and four other officials were put on leave in the immediate aftermath of the Inspector General’s report detailing the agency’s wrongdoing — moves that leave little room for Romney to criticize.
Obviously, both scandals are too recent — and the full scope of each remains too unclear — to draw concrete conclusions about what they might mean (or not mean) to President Obama’s political prospects this fall.
But it is worth noting that one of the central pillars of Obama’s election in 2008 was competency….READ MORE