Yesterday Barack Obama officially broke George W. Bush’s record for the longest scandal-free streak by a president in the post-Watergate era—at least by one political scientist’s criteria. Dartmouth professor Brendan Nyhan ran a study earlier this year on presidential scandals, which he defines as "widespread elite perception of wrongdoing." Nyhan figured the Washington Post is a good indicator of elite opinion, so to qualify as a scandal, the S-word had to be used in the writer’s own voice on a front-page Post story.
Well, Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic has been keeping track, and despite Operation Fast and Furious and Solyndra, Obama has dodged the S-word for 34 solid months—though he had a close call yesterday when a Post headline referenced the "Solyndra controversy." On his blog, Nyhan theorizes that Obama has come so far because his presidency "has been consumed by major exogenous news events" like the Arab Spring or Deepwater Horizon disaster. Of course, if Jon Stewart was a part of Nyhan's study, Obama’s streak would already be over.