No matter how disturbing the Benghazi and IRS scandals may be prove to be, the Republican Party cannot skate into power on that basis. Yet, didn’t the Democrats do exactly that after Watergate? Watergate broke in 1973-74 when the economy was plagued by inflation and oil shocks. The scandal added to a sense of things being out of control.
In the prosperous 1920s, the Harding scandals did not upend Republicans control of the presidency and the Congress. When the economy boomed in 1998-99, Bill Clinton rode out the Lewinsky scandal. His Vice-President, Al Gore, far from an attractive candidate, won the popular vote in 2000 and only lost the presidency by a handful of votes in Florida. Could Clinton have won a third term, had the Constitution allowed it? I think there was a good chance. The conclusion being: when times are bad, scandals will erode a president and his party’s credibility. When times are good, the party in power may ride them out.
The Congressional Republicans cannot ignore these scandals and should investigate them with careful deliberation. Then, let the facts tell the story. No matter how damaging the story may be to President Obama and the Democrats, the Republicans must have a message. It should be about the restoration of the American economy; and they should have candidates who can make that message compelling. If there is a glimmer of hope for the Republicans, it may be with the Republican governors up for re-election. Against considerable opposition within their states, Kasich of Ohio, Walker of Wisconsin, Martinez of New Mexico, Christie of New Jersey, Scott of Florida and Snyder of Michigan have tackled tax reform, the power of government unions, pension funding and growing deficits (For reasons discussed elsewhere on this blog, Gov. Corbett is the weakest of the group). If these governors are re-elected, it may augur well for Republican chances in 2016. Economic issues touch people’s lives directly. That is a fact the Republicans must grasp, even as scandals grab headlines.