President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, about a plan to increase oversight and crack down on manipulation in oil markets. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A trio of scandals that have blown up almost simultaneously have given Republicans an opportunity to question President Barack Obama's leadership.
Reports tell of bureaucrats carousing in Las Vegas, the Secret Service consorting with Cartagena prostitutes and U.S. soldiers posing with enemy corpses. And they have given Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney an opening in a race so close that any advantage can make a difference.
Even if the president escapes being defined by these eruptions, they feed a potentially damaging story line. They erode public confidence in Washington institutions, fuel a perception of federal excess and frustrate Obama's argument that government can be a force for good.