This question came to my attention today via radio station WKZO. The host was mulling this question after a statement by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that President Obama is “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” He later claimed he meant to say the Obama administration is corrupt.
The radio host said he thought the administration has made mistakes, but that doesn’t make it corrupt—not like, say, the Nixon administration. “Corrupt” implies an element of criminality that I don’t think exists, at least the way the congressman thinks it does. Issa referenced health care reform and the stimulus bill as evidence of corruption. He ignores that a bill can’t be signed into law without both chambers of Congress agreeing on it.
He also ignores the areas where the Obama administration is on the shakiest ethical and legal ground—torturing prisoners, leaving Guantanamo open and its detainees without legal recourse, invading residents’ privacy—because most of the current policy stances are just continuations of the Bush administration. Sadly, this is one area where Obama has failed to live up to his campaign promises. Does that make him or his advisers corrupt? No, but it doesn’t make them very trustworthy, either.