The president’s worst week

Barack Obama has just endured what some are calling the “worst week” of his presidency.

Battling scandals about the way his administration handled the attack in Benghazi, the tapping of telephones of The Associated Press and the incredible abuse of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, the president has looked like a beleaguered figure.

A few commentators have said he is suffering from the “curse of the second term,” citing failed periods by every president who was re-elected going back to Richard Nixon. This is nonsense.

Yes, Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra and Bill Clinton’s second term was scarred by the Monica Lewinsky affair. But Reagan’s second term resulted in the end of the Cold War and Clinton’s encore brought a balanced budget to the federal government for the first time in decades.

Both were successful two-term presidencies.

The only thing all the re-elected presidents going back to Nixon have in common is that some members of each of these administrations thought they were infallible and engaged in activities that were both scandalous and – to put it politely – overreaching. Sometimes, as with Nixon, the president himself was directly involved.

The best thing about a democracy, though, is that our freedoms of speech and press usually unveil wrongdoings and the guilty are punished. Efforts to quash these revelations – cover them up – always exacerbate the problems and are often worse than the original sin.

So far there is no evidence President Obama was directly involved in any of last week’s scandals. But there’s no doubt the hubris that comes with executive power has tainted some members of his team.

The best thing the president can do is get rid of everyone who caused the scandals and anyone who tried to cover them up.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.