The term “Teflon President” was first used to describe Ronald Reagan because, with reference to the non-stick Teflon pan, because criticism and blame of President Reagan seldom seemed to stick.
President Obama, one could argue, has also been a “Teflon President”.
For when you consider the sluggish economy, historically high unemployment rates, soaring gas prices, an unpopular war dragging on, the highest deficits in history, the disastrous 2010 mid-term election and the increasing unpopularity of Obama Care, why then is President Obama still considered the odds on favorite to win re-election?
Well maybe those odds are about to change now that a series of concurrent scandals rock the White House.
Which begs the question, do the GSA and Secret Service scandals have the potential to burn off Obama’s Teflon, while arguably more serious on-going scandals like Fast and Furious and Solyndra have not?
A “made for media” scandal must have at least two out of the three following elements.
First is a visual, like a photo or series of photos or best of all a video.
(See Edwards, John sex tape as an example)
Here the GSA scandal receives five out of five stars including the first place winning video produced for and shown at the convention in question. Scandal visuals do not get better or more entertaining than this one (except maybe Edwards, John, sex tape, but that was not played 24/7 in the media, it just existed.)
Now for purposes of comparison, at this writing the Secret Service scandal does not have any images of those 21 lovely Columbian ladies at the center of the controversy. But watch this space, because it is only a matter of time. (More on this below)
Second, a “made for media” scandal needs either abuse of taxpayer money, or a corrupt office-holder stealing taxpayer money and or receiving large pay-offs.
(See Blago for fun and there are just too many others to name.)
Here, the GSA scandal earns the highest marks because the video itself tells the story of taxpayer waste and abuse. (Although the $825,000 spent at the convention is really only chump change in federal government land.)
The Secret Service scandal on the other hand, does not involve abuse of taxpayer dollars except that the agents were on duty at the time of the unfortunate dust-up over payment for services rendered. However, it does have the magic ingredient that fuels all scandals.
That third and final ingredient is, of course, sex.
The GSA scandal gets low marks for sex. But, because elements one and two are so powerful, lack of sex should not hurt this scandal’s staying power, especially since the Congressional hearings are filled with such “outrage” from both sides of the aisle.
The press loves nothing more than sex scandals involving men who carry guns whose job it is to protect the president while working for an organization representing the highest professional standards that our culture holds dear. Combine all that with Secret Service folklore — the stuff movies are made of like “taking the bullet”, and you have a five star scandal that could soon develop into its own fledging media empire especially when the 21 women come forward seeking fame and fortune.
You can just see the headline now, “The Women Who Rocked the Secret Service – photos inside, download now or click here.”
So will these two scandals now clobbering the White House succeed in rubbing the Teflon off President Obama?
The GSA scandal certainly has the greatest potential and not just because it is an easy scandal for the American people to grasp with parties, trips and bonuses — its true potential for damaging Obama goes much deeper.
John L. Mica, R-FL who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on CNN recently:
“People from the White House knew about it, did nothing, kept it quiet until just a few days ago when a statement was released by the president condemning the act.”
Mica then raised the scandal to Watergate levels by adding:
“We think they’ve held this information.”
Yes, the true potential for removing Obama’s Teflon is “what did Obama know and when did he know it?” This is the most important scandal meter question of all time. It has become an evergreen gift from when Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, first asked it during the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973.
Now certainly, Fast and Furious and Solyndra are both serious scandals. Especially Fast and Furious, which involves the death of a US Border Patrol agent, and has the greatest potential to blow up the Obama White House any day now with that ever-present Watergate question they seem to be avoiding.
PJ Media has been on the forefront of this scandal and Forbes made a grand statement last year with a piece entitled, Fast and Furious Just Might Be President Obama’s Watergate.
Almost as disgraceful is Solyndra, that cost US taxpayers over half a billion dollars, seven times as much as the “good-time” GSA convention.
But so far, these scandals with low scores on the “made for media” scandal meter have not gained much traction.
However, it is my bet that the GSA scandal will be the one to strip Obama of his Teflon if it is firmly established that the White House knew about it back in 2010 and proceeded to cover it up.
For what was the great lesson we all learned from Watergate?
The cover up is always more damaging than the crime.