Today, October 6, is the day President Obama breaks George W. Bush's record as the administration with the most scandal-free days since 1977. Yes, both Fast and Furious and Solyndra have forced the White House to do a lot of explaining, but they haven't met Dartmouth professor Brendan Nyhan's definition of a genuine scandal -- yet. Nyhan says that political scientists generally see The Washington Post as a solid indicator of elite opinion -- so for his study, a problem officially curdles into a scandal once the S-word is used in a reporter's own voice in a story that runs on the front page of the Post. Bush made it 34-months before he faced a scandal in the Post. And as of this morning, Obama has beaten that record.
Not there haven't been plenty of close calls. In the Sept. 27 paper, the words "Solyndra scandal" were printed. But they didn't meet Nyhan's criteria for three reasons: 1) it was in a quote from Sen. Mitch McConnell, 2) it was in an opinion column by Dana Milbank, and 3) the story ran on page A08. And who knows how much longer the streak can last. On Thursday afternoon, at 4:07p.m., The Washington Post published Juliet Eilperin's story about Solyndra, and it comes dangerously close to ruining Obama's special day. "Solyndra controversy claims casualty as head of Energy Department loan program steps down," the headline says. Controversy! But the S-word doesn't appear in the body of the story and we don't know yet if it will run on the front page.