Obama must Make Fighting Climate Change National Project, or Die the death of a thousand Scandals

Juan Cole in Informed Comment:

Juan-colePresident Obama, like George H. W. Bush, has a problem with the ‘vision thing.’ And that is the reason for which he is being dogged by critics and ‘scandals.’ He presides over a huge bureaucracy and things will go wrong in it, for which he will be blamed if he allows others to control the narrative. Moreover, it is always possible to depict perfectly ordinary decisions by bureaucrats as somehow outrageous.

Thus, there was no cover-up in Benghazi, but all governments would want to be careful about how talking points were shaped in the aftermath of a crisis (if anything the one most responsible for the insistence that crowd reaction against an Islamophobic film was part of the Benghazi story was Republican David Petraeus, then head of the CIA).

The IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt charitable status derived from a legitimate concern at the more than doubling of such requests after the Citizens United ruling, and a suspicion that the groups were backed by Republican billionaires intending to use them for politics, not charity. It may be that the scrutiny was sometimes invidious, but it is not obvious on the surface as to whether the bureaucrats actually did anything out of the ordinary (left wing requests for tax exempt status were flat; if they had suddenly doubled presumably they would have attracted attention, too.)

But these minor bureaucratic issues only crowd in to dominate the headlines because politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Obama should be making the headlines, should be setting a coherent national agenda. He offered to drive the USA Bus for another four years. But where is he taking us? Not clear.

More here.