Jonathan Chait

Social Norm

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Norm Ornstein on the absurd Sestak "scandal":

If what the Obama administration did was impeachable, then Rep. Issa might want to consider retroactive impeachment action against Ronald Reagan, whose White House directly suggested to S.I. Hayakawa that he would get an administration position if he would stay out of the Republican primary for Senate in California; or call for an investigation and special prosecutor of the Bush White House for discussing a Cabinet post with Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to clear the field for their preferred Republican candidate Mike Johanns in 2006. At the same time, Issa might want to call for expulsion of his Senate colleague Judd Gregg, who insisted before he accepted the post of Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration that there be a guarantee that his successor, appointed by a Democratic governor, be a Republican.

I'm trying to come up with reasons why the press has taken this seriously. The best I can do is that President Obama has been in office for nearly a year and a half and we've yet to have even an appetizer-sized scandal. Therefore, everybody's jumping on the first one to come along.

Look: Obama's going to be there for four or eight years. Eventually somebody in his administration will do something that's actually illegal, or at least unethical in a way that doesn't require redefining utterly normal political behavior as unethical. My advice to everybody is: pace yourselves.

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