Barack #Obama has been the least scandal-ridden administration in decades -- and therefore, there’s no reason for the White House counsel to appear before Congress, get grilled on the Sunday shows, or otherwise appear in negative headlines -- or any headlines at all.
During the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations, White House counsels were in the news all the time. Clinton had six of them -- including Abner Mikva, the legendary Chicago lawyer who passed away on Tuesday -- and Bush had three. Two of Dubya’s were highly controversial figures (Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers) and the third (Fred Fielding) was an old Nixon/Reagan hand.
Eggleston is the fourth White House Counsel since Obama took office, the others being Greg Craig, Bob Bauer and Kathryn Ruemmler. None of those people have been anything approaching a household name; if you’ve heard of Craig it’s likely because he was a longtime Clinton loyalist who deflected to the Clinton camp during the 2008 primary. If any four of those people walked into the room I’m in right now, I would have no idea who they were.
The idea of Barack Obama as uniquely clean is likely laughable to Republicans and those otherwise opposed to the president. But the fact is, Obama hasn’t dealt with the sort of scandals faced by most recent administrations. No cabinet secretary or close associate of the president has resigned in disgrace or been indicted. Obama has also managed to avoid the late-term calamities -- Iran-Contra for Reagan, the Lewinsky scandal for Clinton, U.S. attorney firings/Valerie Plame/the 2008 financial meltdown for Bush -- that tend to befall two-term presidencies.
The president’s opponents have continued to hang “scandals” on his head, but nothing has stuck. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who spent four years as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in 2010 described Obama as “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” apparently changing the definition of “corrupt” to “politician supportive of policies with which I disagree.” And in Issa’s four years in charge of that committee, he pursued investigation after investigation into the Obama Administration’s “scandals”-- none of which went anywhere whatsoever.
What opponents of the president describe as “scandals” have often either been mistakes or policy failures or wrongdoing that were marked by no wrongdoing by the president himself or those close to him.
The deaths in Benghazi were a tragedy marred by several errors, but numerous investigations have shown the conspiracy theories about deliberate wrongdoing as categorically false. The IRS "targeting" scandal and “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation both turned out very differently than how they were originally reported by conservative media. The dysfunction of the Healthcare.gov website at launch was a screw-up, but once again -- not a matter of deliberate wrongdoing. None of these things -- up to and including, now, the State Department email server -- ever led to any criminal charges. And all of that put together pales in comparison to such past presidential scandals as Watergate and Iran Contra.
You can criticize various moves and decisions made by the Obama Administration, from involvement in Libya to failure to predict the rise of ISIS to the spotty rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But none of those meet the definition of a “scandal,” which is quite unique among recent administrations.
Obama's time in office? Don't count on it. Whether the next president of the United States is #Hillary Clinton or #Donald Trump, it’s a fair bet that this time next year, you’ll know the name of the White House Counsel.