Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Obama’s New Political Reality Is Bad News for Dems in 2014

Forget background checks and gun control, divisions within the GOP on immigration, and Republican intransigence on negotiating a budget deal with the president. The current triple play of Benghazi, the IRS and now the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records has the potential to be a political game changer for 2014.

It’s hard to overstate the potential significance of the past week. What we are witnessing is nothing less than a dramatic reversal of the nation’s political narrative — from how bad the Republican brand is and how President Barack Obama is going to mobilize public opinion against the GOP in the midterm elections to whether the Obama administration has become so arrogant that it believes it can stonewall Congress and the public.

The series of revelations presents an unflattering picture of an administration that just 10 days ago looked poised and confident. Now it looks out of touch and unresponsive.

The danger for Obama, of course, is that many Americans will start to doubt his administration’s veracity and values. If that happens — and for now it is only a danger, not an inevitability — then the president could well turn into a serious liability for Democrats in next year’s elections.

The recent revelations seem to confirm some of the complaints and accusations coming from some of the GOP’s most conservative elements, and that could both damage the Democratic brand and improve the Republicans’.

In the near term, the controversies could help the candidacies of Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee in the June 25 Massachusetts Senate special election, and even Ken Cuccinelli, the presumptive GOP nominee for governor of Virginia. Given the administration’s problems, voters are more likely now than they were two weeks ago to use this year’s contests to send a message of dissatisfaction to the White House.

Longer term, it isn’t clear whether the current controversies will hurt the president and his party in 2014. But if the administration’s problems linger or even grow, Democratic enthusiasm could wane, depressing turnout in next year’s elections. Weaker turnout would have serious ramifications for Democratic candidates, particularly in swing and red districts and states. It could also hurt party recruiting and lead to a flurry of retirements.

It’s unlikely that the three controversies will pass quickly. The IRS scandal, in particular, is likely to linger, as drips of news and allegations come out over the next few weeks.

The White House is likely to have to spend many hours and much energy responding to questions and generally dealing with these issues, making it more difficult for the president to push his legislative agenda. If history is any guide, that could add to the impression of an embattled president who is merely trying to keep his administration afloat.

And that definitely is not the message that Democratic strategists have been hoping would carry the party to a successful 2014 midterm elections.

  • Cedric

    Mr. Rothenberg please….you have clearly bought the media hype but that is because you are apart of the media. Real America is not concerned about these fake hyped scandals…we want jobs. So when you are done hyperventilating on how much “trouble” Obama is in, please join us in discussing real issues.

    • Stingo

      Yeah, let’s talk about Obamacare… oh, wait… job killer.

    • Controse

      Not paying attention there Cedric, are you? “fake hyped scandals” in your dreams. Your love affair with Oboutme is going to be coming to and end if you still want to hang with the in-crowd.

    • gekkobear

      You want jobs… so that helps the Democrats who run the White House AND Senate (and therefore have power) for over 4 years how exactly?

      I can see on the chart where the recession happened; but the “recovery” from when the recession “ended” in June 2009 is harder to spot.

      Can you show me the good news that happened that will make this a selling point for Democrats?

    • Matt

      Real issues is not a branch of government investigating private citizens based on their political views? So you’re fine with the IRS investigating you b/c you vote democratic when a republican is in office?

    • Rob

      Your breathless protests would work better if Obama had any success at all in creating jobs so far.

      • JaRoK

        Are you referring to the increased housing market and decreased unemployment during his term of 5 years?

    • Ken Martin

      If you’re looking for jobs under Obama better apply for a government job. Don’t hold your breath waiting for things to improve under this incompetent loser.

    • Looey

      As far as jobs are concerned, where is the Keystone pipeline? Obama has the authority to order it to move forward, but he won’t do it because of his ideology. He wants the wind and solar to replace oil and gas.

      You should be very concerned about what has happened at the IRS. They have always been a feared organization, and for them to target groups due to their names is downright chilling. When you look at the groups that were targeted, they stood for things that Obama opposed. These were not some low-level employees in Cincinnati who got together and decided to do this. This smacks of Obama and his minions who decided that it was one way to silence anyone who did not agree with him. This sounds more like Hitler.

  • James Hannon

    In other words, it is possible to overstate the significance of the past week.

    • Dude Kelsbro

      Exactly. Rothenberg in 1997: “Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal is bad news for Dems in 1998.”

      Except Republicans lost the House in 1998 — oops. Back then, as now, people are concerned about jobs, security, civil rights, inflation — things that actually affect them. The people are not interested in the Beltway media’s fake scandalpalooza and polls show they are yawning and recognizing them as witch hunts against Hillary and Obama.

      Americans didn’t fall for this manufactured faux outrage in 1997-98, and they aren’t going to fall for it in 2013-14. You headline should read: “Republican insistence on wasting taxpayer time and money is bad news for Republicans in 2014.”

      • Dano481971

        Dude, nice revisionist history, your are a typical liberal, just making up your own “facts”. Too bad for you, the Republicans didn’t lose the House Or Senate in 1998. The Republicans controlled both the House and Senate from 1994 to 2006, with the exception of a brief period (June of 2001 to December 2002) when Jim Jeffords became an Idependent, and the Democrats controlled the Senate until Republicans regained control after the 2002 election.

        By the way, if Americans are only concerned about the economy, why have Democrats wasted the past 5 years on things that the public dislikes or doesn’t care about, like Obamacare, gay marriage, and gun control, instead of working on jobs? If Americans only care about the economy, explain how that helps Obama, since the economy continues to be in the tank because of his policies.

        • James Tetrick

          Thank you I hate trying to respond to people who either don’t know what they are talking about or are lying to get their own point across. Either way, thanks for making me not have to flame him. :)

        • tierpole

          Economy still in the tank? Don’t think it is good as we would like, but the stock market is soaring, unemployment is decreasing, the deficit is being cut in half, housing is recovering, and the US is still standing. And I must say, all of these good things have come about in spite of the obstructionism and tarnishing of the Democrats.

      • Chris Conlee

        We’re talking about nothing less than a branch of government trampling on Americans’ right to free speech. If you think that isn’t blood-chilling, then we ARE in trouble as a nation. This is something ALL American’s should be screaming about, regardless of political affiliation. Remember, if you think it’s just dandy for your government to take away one group’s right to speak, then don’t be surprised when they come to take away your right.

      • Bad Wolf

        The Republicans didn’t lose the House in 1998. If you can’t get that basic detail right it pretty much destroys any credibility you have

  • yadayadaaa

    Ya Stu. Maybe. Maybe NOT!
    We’ll get back to you like we did when you kept claiming MITT and LYAN RYAN are GONNA WIN I CAN JUST FEEL IT!!!!!!
    ya. Its already unraveling for the drama queens ,on the right. The ABC email is contradicted and proven to be a bunch of over stated drama… by new emails from that time.
    Hillarys poll numbers, havnt moved 1 point, with all the rightwingers spitiing food on their monitors… as they scream waah wahh waaaah.
    And the American people want terroist plots stopped not leaked by the media!
    So ya. If you ever start being right, in these wild, maybe pieces, that you spit out. THEN we might get back to you. But ya.
    Wait by the phone.

    • tescon fuhr

      Lying–like the media “politifact” lie of the year that Jeeps were not going to be made in China…but Fiat (the Italian corporation that Obama got to buy Chrysler and makes Jeeps) announced that Jeeps will be made in …China.

      • Jackson Euler

        the Politifact “Lie of the Year” was Romney’s claim that the Ohio Jeep-manufacturing jobs were going to be moved to China (false), NOT that Jeeps would be made in China FOR THE CHINESE MARKET! There is a big difference. R-money found out the hard way that most people aren’t so stupid to believe lies like that, too bad you’re not most people.

        • starride

          Where do you think the Jeeps presently being made for the Chinese market are being made right now???

    • Stingo

      It’s spelled, “yeah”. But I’m wasting my breath speaking to a caps lock loon.

    • Jordan Michael Turner

      You’re only hurting yourself by voting for Obama. You are happy that President Obama won but he doesn’t have yours or anyones interests at heart. Has it ever occurred to you that yes, he could be lying to you? Has than ever crossed your mind? You should try contemplating that.

  • Mitch


    From your mouth to God’s ears.

  • ojfl

    The bigger problem is that this story has two downsides for Democrats. The first and obvious one is that they cannot be trusted with power because when they have it, they abuse it. The second is that Democrats always come up with government centric solutions and, at best, all these events show that big government simply cannot be controlled and it, irrespective of who manages it, cannot be trusted with even more power lest things fall by the wayside. Some in the Democratic corner are already making this assertion but it does not help their vision of justice and “equality” dispensed at the hands of government.

  • MountainHome

    No more trust in our own government. A presidential election was distorted by the current Administration in the WH & loyalist in the bureaucracy.
    A TIME TO STAND by Oliver book has all of this & is a must read now cause it’s decent Americans taking a stand against federal tyranny. It’s also about what all of this will lead too if the govt. is corrupt so I recommend it.
    Tampering with voting rights is a serious offense. Romney was not my candidate, but he lost the election with the help of a corrupt government & this is just wrong.

  • MTracy

    Come on. Benghazi is a non-scandal, there’s no reason to suggest the White House had anything to do with the IRS scandal, and the Justice Department acted in the interest of national security, which the Republicans had been begging them to do. I’ll bet these “scandals” turn out to have as much legs as the BP oil spill, i. e., zero.

    • gekkobear

      “there’s no reason to suggest the White House had anything to do with the IRS scandal”

      It was just some low level staffers in Cincinnati who made mistakes in 2012… right?

      What do we know now?

      It started in 2010, not 2012… the chief counsel and director knew about it in 2011 at the latest.

      It wasn’t just scrutiny, the IRS released confidential information to the press on conservative groups for opposition research.

      It wasn’t just Cincinnati, Washington and California offices have already been implicated in the activities in question.

      I’m not sure I’d make a definitive statement on where this will end… the scope seems to grow on a daily basis.

    • Matt

      So somehow Obama is not responsible for anything that goes on in his administration? And yet the world’s most idiotic genius, George Bush was blamed for sending a hurricane to destroy New Orleans and directly responsible for allegedly not finding WMDs in Iraq .

      • JaRoK

        Keep in mind Obama’s administration had FEMA set up well before Sandy ever even made landfall versus Bush not even sending FEMA in 3 days after. I do not know what fairy tale you’re trying to string together but these are the facts of that situation.

        • 18th-Gen American

          The law required that LA officially request FEMA. The LA Governor and the New Orleans Mayor irresponsibly failed to do so in a timely manner, for no SOUND reason(s). THEY are both to blame, not Bush. Bush and FEMA were anxiously waiting for the go ahead, but it did not come until way too late. This was revealed in the immediate aftermath, yet the unsubstantiated urban myth to the contrary lives on, perpetuated by those who apparently are more interested in bloviating blather than in facts.

          Further, many of Obama’s promises at Sandy were either reneged upon or not done in anywhere close to the immediate time frame he made a point of proffering. Made good, free, campaign TV, though!

          Also, the Democrats in the House and Senate saw the same reports regarding probable WMD’s as the Bush Administration did, and THEY also came to the same conclusion as Bush did, and subsequently approved seeking them, based on said reports.

    • Rob

      Why does this remind me of “it’s all about sex!”?

  • Danny Adams

    Maybe I’m being too cynical, but I suspect two things will come out of Benghazi for Obama: One, if he doesn’t lose everything because of it, that means he’ll automatically come out a winner. But contrast that with two, it may become his version of what the ignoring bin Laden report and stonewalling the 9/11 Commission were to Bush: Things he didn’t get impeached over but will likely haunt him forever.

  • VideoZu Crue

    I can see America circling the bowl.

    Following in the footsteps of the Roman Empire, is NOT the best use of America.
    We haven’t had a clean election in 50 years.
    Why start now.
    We already have a Kenyan president.
    The Democrats are the Republicans and the Republicans are the Democrats. They all are in bed together, with each other. So, what do you expect?
    Sex, Drugs, Money, Power, and partying is what make Washington DC, the screw capital of the WORLD!

    • JaRoK

      I agree with this, terms need to be limited in congress. Way too many corrupt p.o.s on both sides. They don’t serve the people, only themselves.

  • Proudly Unaffiliated

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of frauds.

  • Tosheba

    Funny and pathetic how the two-faced media, leftist politicians, and celebrities, one-by-one, now lament on what we’ve been screaming at them for over (5) years.


    What kind of a wierd, convoluted, deranged, hypocritical, opportunistic, looney mindset is required for someone to become a “Democrat”?
    And this coming from a lifelong Jazz performer, born in Detroit, with over fourty years on the bandstand, and someone who is expected to have “Democrat” stamped on his BC.

  • Fungus Exterminator

    The overwhelming number of minorities that voted for the Kenyan don’t give a damn about integrity in government, as most of them have none themselves. All they are looking for is feeding off USA tax payers and more “free” handouts.

    • Larry Foster

      On the news one day they had a black lady say” I don’t know anything about what he stands for, I just voted for him because he is black” That is why he got their vote. Anyone with a half a brain would have figured him out at least after the first 4 years no matter what their color is..

    • jesse brink

      Thanks for establishing both your credibility and your IQ in the first line of your post. It saves me from having to read the rest.

  • Larry Foster

    The real reason Mitt lost the election was…….He said he would put Americans back to work and 51% said H#$$ no and votes for Odumba

    • JaRoK

      Larry, I agree Romney single handedly lost the last election with that ignorant statement and it was ignorant. I do agree with Romney that the handouts have to stop to those who drastically abuse them. 47% is not the number that represents that figure. I know a lot people that both need the help and then there are just as many people that abuse the (*$$* out of it as well, but it no way was it grounds for such ridiculous statement.

  • Informed Citizen

    scandal after scandal is all this administration is good for… people need to wake up and see how out of control he really is….

  • egm11

    it doesn’t matter if the democrats are depressed and some stay home, those who go vote will just vote two or three more times while they are out and about, just like they did in the presidential election. voter fraud put the fraud of a president back in office, it will keep the progressives in control of the senate………

  • Pilgrim1620

    In the current storm of defecation that has hit the White House, President Obama is claiming to be a victim once again. He now claims that he is a “victim
    of coincidental, inevitable failures of a large and unwieldy federal bureaucracy” and that Republicans are just piling on.

    Did you get that? Inevitable failures? Unwieldy federal bureaucracy? Now he’s a victim of the huge bureaucracy that he wants to make even bigger.

    And who believes that more government is needed to implement the “progressive” agenda? In fact a big part of the storm is about the IRS singling out conservative non-profit groups for scrutiny and illegally releasing information on these groups. Under Obamacare, who is responsible for policing payment provisions? THE IRS!!!

    How many “victims” do you know who would favor rewarding their victimizer? Our President is showing his true Chicago political roots.

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