WASHINGTON - What a mess! But then it's probably just business as usual in this burg where any hopes of a quiet few weeks following an election more tumultuous, disruptive and negative than most have suddenly faded into scandal, potential fiscal chaos and an intelligence debacle.
Well, you wanted to continue in the job badly enough to spend most of the last year doing very little but campaigning for it, Mr. President. Have you never heard of being careful for what you wish? So now with your last election beneath your belt, you can forget about campaigning and look forward to that day four years from now when you can go back to Chicago and dabble in local community affairs with Mayor Potty Mouth, Rahm Emanuel, who helped get you into this mess. But before you can even start that second term you have a long list of priorities.
You have to try to save the nation by squeezing more money ($1.3 trillion you've said) out of the 3 percent that already pay 98 percent of the taxes and cutting expenditures enough to keep all of us from tumbling over a fiscal precipice. If that isn't enough you must now find a CIA director who isn't vulnerable to a pretty face and has enough sense to avoid emails. While doing that, you may need to discover a replacement for another military superstar who apparently also likes titillating electronic conversation with a woman other than his wife between what we are told is midnight and 2 a.m.
Try to sort this out: David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley and Marine Gen. John Allen and Jill Kelley and ... who knows ... Mondo Bizarro. It's Washington's version of "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice." But unless there really was a breach of national security in all this, these dalliances in high places, like all those before them, are just revelations that tweak our prurient interests but don't amount to much when stacked up against serious matters.
Have I forgotten anything? Oh, yeah. There's still the problem of explaining the security lapses and the dissembling around the obvious terrorist attack that ended the lives of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, in Libya. The Benghazi four will be remembered a long time and Congress isn't going to let you, the State Department or the CIA off easy on this one.
In fact Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have made it clear you should forget about nominating U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of State when Hillary Clinton steps down. They don't trust Rice after she tried to palm off the Libyan affair as the result of a demonstration that turned nasty. It clearly was far more serious and organized than that. If you want to pick up the senators' gauntlet as you indicated you might during your recent press conference, you'll find the rules of the Senate favor the opposition, Mr. President. But I suspect you know that.
Could you explain why suddenly Mitt Romney has had some good ideas about jobs that you might want to discuss with him as you said in your press conference? After all you spent more than $1 billion and almost a year decrying anything he said as unworthy of serious attention or discussion.
Wow, a whole lot of voters who took you at your word might be confused here. You even praised the job he did on the Olympics that your minions disparaged almost daily as not qualifying him for running anything especially the White House. Also, have you changed your mind about that evil Bain Capital? Talk about mixed messages.
Of course, this all could be resolved in the coming weeks before the Dec. 31 deadline that unleashes the dogs of economic ferocity -- huge spending cuts, across-the-board tax increases, taxpayer confusion, a hit to our defense and vital services and so many other things that we average Americans don't really comprehend.
You said your "mandate" now is to do a better job the next four years than you did the last. One certainly would hope so.
Dan K. Thomasson is the former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.