When President Richard Nixon collided with the Watergate scandal, he was a very unpopular man. The nation at the time was suffering one of the worst recessions in history and one of the highest inflation rates, too. So Watergate sunk Dick Nixon, but for good measure, the economy sunk him even more.
Roughly 25 years later, Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. But despite his personal transgressions, he never really lost his popularity. Why? The economy was roaring.
So you might say scandals are less scandalous during prosperity and more scandalous during recession.
As for the current president, he finds himself with a precariously thin margin. As yet, there is no clear and direct link between President Obama and a trove of political scandals. Not yet. And while he doesn’t have a recession on his hands, not even the president’s strongest supporter believes we’re in some kind of Reagan-Clinton economic boom.
The failure to get to the bottom of Benghazi is a scandal. The issue of secret subpoenas of reporters is close to scandalous. The IRS targeting of conservative groups is most definitely a scandal. And most recently, the NSA’s secret data-collection efforts smell of scandal. (One wonders if Obama shouldn’t at least appoint a scandal czar to keep track of these front-page miscues.)