The media finally conceded the Obama administration to be inexperienced and inept, reminiscent of the Carter administration — but, they maintained, not possibly involved in any corruption. Then suddenly scandals erupted on nearly every conceivable front: the crony-capitalist half-billion-dollar loan guarantee to a now bankrupt Solyndra; the Fast and Furious gun deal, in which, in lunatic fashion, the U.S. government sold deadly automatic weapons to Mexican drug-cartel killers; the administration’s pressure on a four-star general to fudge his testimony as a favor to a big campaign donor whose suspect company, LightSquared, was doing business with the Pentagon; and the politically inspired dropping of investigations by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
The administration got itself into these messes because it customarily counts on a medieval notion of compartmentalized exemption. In the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama’s loud and welcomed hope-and-change promises to end insider influence, lobbying, and earmarks were essential to his well-crafted image of the outsider reformer. Once that liberal narrative was embraced by the media, few seemed to care whether the other, cynical Obama was the first candidate in the history of public financing of presidential campaigns to renounce the program — in order to maximize his campaign stash, much of it pouring in from firms like Goldman Sachs and BP.
The country shrugged at such contradictions: Surely such a saintly progressive had saintly reasons; or, if he didn’t, exemption must be given for a messianic figure to use questionable means to achieve his noble ends. Yet, according to PolitiFact, the fact-checking arm of the St. Petersburg Times, of the 17 grand promises candidate Obama made on ethics reform, he has so far kept only five.