AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Throughout the past week, revelations regarding the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups, the Department of Justice’s decision to subpoena the phone records of over 100 Associated Press journalists, and the Republican Party’s continued obsession with a supposed cover-up in Benghazi have left President Barack Obama on the defensive. As a result, many in the media are speculating that the president has been fatally wounded politically, and Republicans are openly discussing impeachment.
This is not the first time they have predicted Obama’s demise, however. In fact, the president’s four-plus years in office have been littered with “bombshells” that were supposed to destroy his credibility, only to land with a thud when presented to the American public.
Here are five “scandals” that were supposed to destroy President Obama.
Fast and Furious
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Fast and Furious, the gun-running “scandal” that captured Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the House Oversight Committee’s attention towards the end of President Obama’s first term, was the first of several “Watergates” during the Obama administration.
Republicans spent months claiming that Obama’s presidency would be destroyed once the “truth” came out, and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) even floated the idea of impeachment. But then the report from the Department of Justice Inspector General shredded the conspiracy theories, and the GOP moved on to the next scandal.
Photo: Lawrence Jackson via Wikimedia Commons
When green energy startup Solyndra went under in 2011 — despite having received a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee before going bankrupt — Republicans eagerly pounced on the scandal as an example of “crony capitalism” gone wrong.
Setting aside the fact that the loan guarantee program used by Solyndra was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the GOP opened up an investigation into the Obama administration’s actions, and Mitt Romney repeatedly used the episode to attack the president throughout the 2012 election — showing just how potent Republicans believed the attack to be. Unfortunately for Romney, by the time the calendar had flipped to November, voters didn’t seem to care.
‘You Didn’t Build That’
AP Photo/Jason Redmond
When President Barack Obama gave a speech arguing that all successful Americans receive some help along the way, the Romney campaign almost immediately took four words from the speech out of context and turned them against the president: “You didn’t build that.”
For the next several months, Romney (often unsuccessfully) used the line as one of his primary attacks against Obama, going as far as to plan large portions of the Republican National Convention around the line.
Republicans were certain that the attack was a winner, insisting that it was “devastating” and would convince voters that Obama “is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations,” as Kim Strassel put it in The Wall Street Journal. But a funny thing happened on the way to the landslide: Voters tuned out the GOP outrage machine, and Obama easily won re-election — in large part due to voters agreeing with his economic vision.
‘Obama’s Other Race Speech’
Arguably the least successful “scandal” of the 2012 presidential election was the much-hyped reveal of a 2007 video that Drudge Report dubbed “Obama’s other race speech.” In the hours before the video was unveiled, the right-wing media could hardly contain their glee at the speech that Sean Hannity promised would be a “racially-charged” “bombshell” that “could dramatically impact the race for the White House.”
In reality, the “bombshell” turned out to a mild speech in which President Obama compared the federal government’s responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. Far from shaking up the race for the White House, it would be almost entirely forgotten 24 hours later, after the first presidential debate.
The Birth Certificate
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com
The original Obama “scandal” was the question of his birth certificate, which the right-wing fringe has long insisted is a forgery that will eventually lead to the president’s removal from office. Ridiculous as the lie may be, various elements of the media have either tacitly endorsed it by allowing themselves to be used as a platform for the conspiracy theorists, or — in Fox News’ case — brazenly claiming that the president’s birth certificate had been altered, and questioning “whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States.”
Despite the right’s best efforts, however, the birther “scandal” didn’t stop Americans from sending a supposed Kenyan Muslim socialist to the White House — twice.