Obama Faces Criticism on Multiple Fronts

Is the President’s second-term agenda in jeopardy?

By Dara Sharif

President Barack ObamaOver the last few days, the White House has been battling controversy on three fronts.

The Obama administration faces continued questions about what was known and when regarding the official line in the days following the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Then there is the news that IRS personnel singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny regarding their tax-exempt status.

And Tuesday came reports that as part of a media-leaks probe, the Justice Department seized business and home-phone records of journalists working for the Associated Press.

With immigration, jobs and the continued rollout of healthcare reform topping the agenda for President Obama’s second term, the latest controversies could potentially slow or derail progress on those issues.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Obama characterized the Benghazi probe as politically motivated. He called the reported action of the IRS unacceptable and said he would not tolerate such behavior.

When pressed on the IRS issue, as well as for reaction to the AP probe, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that in-depth comment would have to wait until investigations were concluded.

Democratic operatives say it’s key that the President get ahead of the issues, especially regarding the IRS.

“He has to demand full accountability and then heads have to roll,” Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist close to the White House, told Politico. “Everybody has to condemn it, no one can be defending this, and the White House has to be at the top of the list in condemning it.”

The issue of leaders publicly confronting scandals is particularly relevant when corporations face discrimination lawsuits or other diversity-related scandals.

The CEOs we’ve interviewed and highlighted emphasize transparency, values, and clear decision-making. Even in the face of negative press, CEOs such as André Wyss of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (No. 6 in the DiversityInc Top 50), John Stumpf of Wells Fargo (No. 25), John Lechleiter of Eli Lilly and Company (No. 35), John Bryant of Kellogg Company (No. 32), Steve Howe of Ernst & Young (No. 4) and George Chavel of Sodexo (No. 1) embody these traits.

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