When Presidents Lose Top Deputies to Scandals

Top officials sometimes have to go

In my column this week, I discuss some steps President Barack Obama could take to get past the current spate of faux scandals threatening to undermine his second term.

Forced resignations of high-level officials after controversies or scandals aren't uncommon in the modern American presidency. Some of the closest presidential advisers over the past half century or so have been forced out.

In 1958, Sherman Adams, the powerful White House chief of staff to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had to resign after it was revealed that he accepted a vicuna coat and an oriental rug from a businessman who had dealings with the federal government.

In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon's two closest confidants, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were forced to step down as the Watergate scandal mushroomed. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst also left.

In 1977, less than a year into the Jimmy Carter administration, Office of Management and Budget Director Bert Lance, a close associate of the president, was driven out after questions were raised about his management of a bank before his time in Washington.

One sure way to get canned is to tell off-color jokes about racial or religious groups. In 1976, Earl Butz, agriculture secretary for President Gerald Ford, was fired after he was overheard telling an obscene and racist joke. Ronald Regan's interior secretary, James Watt, first offended First Lady Nancy Reagan when he criticized the Beach Boys, and then made a crack about blacks, Jews and people with disabilities. He then was pressured to resign.

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