(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(Bloomberg View) — Sometimes it’s hard to see why presidents want to wait around for a second term; that seems to be the point where it all goes to heck. Nixon had Watergate; Reagan, Iran-Contra; Clinton, impeachment; Bush, Katrina and the steady decline of Iraq. Now Barack Obama, too, seems to be entering into the unpleasant, scandal- and headache-ridden phase of his presidency.   See also:  Were HealthCare.gov warnings overlooked? 

My father, who is a wise man, once pointed out to me that scandals are practically inevitable in a second presidential term because there are a lot of people in an administration, and as the years wear on, the probability that one of them has done something insalubriously newsworthy approaches certainty. Such as creating special, off-the-books waiting lists at their Veterans Administration hospitals in order to collect their performance bonuses. Or experiencing a series of unfortunate events rendering them unable to provide subpoena’d documents.

Meanwhile, as George W. Bush also discovered, foreign policy tends to get more annoying and complicated. In your first term, you can feel like you are planting seeds and waiting for them to bear fruit. In your second term, whatever happens around the world will be attributed to you by voters (however fairly or unfairly). If it is bad, then your approval ratings will go down, and there’s not much you can do, because the U.S. president is not the world’s parent and cannot send other countries to their room until they behave themselves.

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