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Why IRS investigation is already Obama's Watergate – and Benghazi, too (+video)

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The White House has said it did nothing wrong on Benghazi but simply released information as it was known. It also said Sunday that it had no knowledge of the IRS activities against tea party groups and others, and bristled at the idea of investigations swallowing Obama's second-term agenda.

"What we're not going to participate in is partisan fishing expeditions designed to distract from the real issues at hand," said White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

What is it about second terms that get presidents into so much trouble? The fact that a first term preceded it. Presidential politics is rarely fluffy clouds and rainbows, and the massive American bureaucracy has never been likened to Swiss clockwork. Things go wrong, and (this being politics) that rarely leads to primetime presidential confessionals before Congress.

"What is it about presidents' second terms that makes them seem so scandal-ridden? Simple: The iron law of longevity," writes Doyle McManus in an opinion article for the Los Angeles Times. "All governments make mistakes, and all governments try to hide those mistakes. But the longer an administration is in office, the more errors it makes, and the harder they are to conceal."

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, even has accompanying graphs to prove it. Once inaugural-year jitters are out of the way, the peak time for scandals during a president's career is the fifth year, he found by looking at data for when scandals were reported in the Washington Post.

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