Whether he knows it or not, President Obama is about to fuck something up miserably and drown his administration in years of investigations. There is no avoiding it; it will happen, perhaps even by the close of Memorial Day weekend. Why are we so sure? Because a little thing called "math" told us.
Political scientist Brendan Nyhan has released a new study, "Where Are the Obama Scandals?", that asks why "the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing." Really? "Not yet suffered a major scandal"? Perhaps Brendan Nyhan was on vacation when Barack Obama ordered dijon mustard for his hamburger or personally demanded the removal of an American flag from Ground Zero, so we'll forgive him for the shaky premise.
Assuming we go along with Nyhan's criteria, though, math almost guarantees something terrible happening soon:
Obama has been extremely fortunate: My research on presidential scandals shows that few presidents avoid scandal for as long as he has. In the 1977-2008 period, the longest that a president has gone without having a scandal featured in a front-page Washington Post article is 34 months – the period between when President Bush took office in January 2001 and the Valerie Plame scandal in October 2003. Obama has already made it almost as long despite the lack of a comparable event to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Why?
Probably because he hasn't had the time to coordinate a major scandal yet. Or maybe he's just not as shady as other presidents? These explanations wrongly assume that a president's behavior and agency actually have anything to do with the emergence of a "major scandal." What the president does is largely unimportant:
Obama should be highly vulnerable to scandal given his standing with Republicans. My research identifies presidential approval among opposition party identifiers as a key risk factor. The reason is that discontent among the opposition's base creates demand for negative news about the president, encouraging opposition legislators and members of the news media to promote allegations of misconduct.
In sum: "Political news" is a 100% fictional construct, and math will force an intern to give the president an Oval Office blowjob.
[Image via Getty]