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Opinion
Megan McArdle

Want to Be Popular? Don't Be President

Sometimes it’s hard to see why presidents want to wait around for a second term; that seems to be the point where it all goes to heck.
It's lonely at the top.
It's lonely at the top.

Sometimes it's hard to see why presidents want to wait around for a second term; that seems to be the point where it all goes to heck. Nixon had Watergate; Reagan, Iran-Contra; Clinton, impeachment; Bush, Katrina and the steady decline of Iraq. Now Barack Obama, too, seems to be entering into the unpleasant, scandal- and headache-ridden phase of his presidency.

My father, who is a wise man, once pointed out to me that scandals are practically inevitable in a second presidential term because there are a lot of people in an administration, and as the years wear on, the probability that one of them has done something insalubriously newsworthy approaches certainty. Such as creating special, off-the-books waiting lists at their Veterans Administration hospitals in order to collect their performance bonuses. Or experiencing a series of unfortunate events rendering them unable to provide subpoena'd documents.