Jeff Jacoby’s column “The ‘scandal-free’ Obama presidency? An urban legend” (Opinion, March 7) is the definition of false parity. Every presidency ends up with a few of its own scandals, and the Obama-era missteps are not to be dismissed. But this — what is going on now under the current administration — is not only unprecedented, it is downright terrifying. I hope that if we survive this travesty of governing, we can return to an administration, warts and all, that will bring us back from the brink.
Show me any presidential administration that has not made errors of judgment or policy. It simply does not exist. But can any part of Obama’s record correctly be termed a scandal? Absolutely not.
In contrast, our daily news reports tell us of true scandals, such as members of the administration and Donald Trump himself ignoring clear evidence of Russian meddling with our democratic system; ongoing questions about payoffs to former mistresses; attempts to squelch special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation, raising serious concerns over obstruction of justice; and the likelihood that those close to the president have been trading access and influence for financial gain for themselves or their families.
Indeed, if Trump himself is found to be directly involved in those actions, he would almost certainly be guilty of impeachable offenses. Suggesting that Trump’s serious transgressions and seemingly illegal activities are in any way comparable to Obama’s errors is off-base, misleading, and wrong.
I don’t have enough space to analyze every example in Jeff Jacoby’s “The ‘scandal-free’ Obama presidency? An urban legend.” Let me tackle one. Solyndra, a solar energy company, was supported in a green-energy loan program funded by the Department of Energy as part of the 2009 economic stimulus program. Solyndra, which received $535 million, failed in 2011.
However, the program as a whole has been turning a profit, as revealed in headlines over the years: “Remember Solyndra? Those loans are making money” (The Washington Post), “U.S. expects $5 Billion From Program That Funded Solyndra” (Bloomberg), “Solyndra who? The Energy Department’s loan program is now profitable” (The Christian Science Monitor).
Furthermore, the program created tens of thousands of jobs, and the overall default rate was a mere 2.3 percent (the bulk due to Solyndra alone). Any venture capitalist investing in startup companies will tell you that they do not expect every investment to succeed; success is judged by whether the portfolio as a whole succeeds. So, if the Energy Department program as a whole succeeded, where’s the scandal?
The writer is a member of the board of Climate Action Brookline.
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