Trouble in threes: Scandals hamper Obama's message

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It isn't Mitt Romney who's giving Barack Obama fits as the president pivots to re-election mode. It's those federal bureaucrats carousing in Las Vegas, the Secret Service consorting with Columbian prostitutes and U.S. soldiers posing with bloody enemy corpses.The scandals are taking a toll. They are distracting embarrassments that are dominating public attention while Obama seeks to focus on difficulties abroad and jobs at home. And they are giving Republicans an opportunity to question his competence and leadership, an opening for Romney in a race so close that any advantage might make a difference.Even if the Democratic president escapes being defined by these flare-ups, they still feed a story line that can erode public confidence in Washington institutions, fuel a perception of federal excess and frustrate Obama's argument that government can be a force for good.The White House response has been textbook - a mix of outrage and deflection.\The president has been crystal clear since he was a candidate about the standards that he insists be met by those who work for the federal government and on behalf of the American people and for the American people

Comment Here