Nightly News   |  May 16, 2013

‘No-drama Obama’ in crisis mode

President Obama is tackling an ambitious agenda while facing cascading crises that have been dominating the headlines. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> some folks are already calling the president's problems the curse of the second term. yet it's tough to know the staying power of any given scandal in the making along with the effect any of this might have on his overall planned agenda. that story tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: controversies on all side. republicans and even some democrats at the gates. and a president who often sounds more like observer than chief executive.

>> i first learned about it from the same news reports that i think most people learn good this.

>> reporter: there's already pressure for a special counsel to investigate the irs and unflattering comparisons to richard nixon . william cone voted to impeach nixon and says the irs affair is not watergate.

>> if that were directed by the president or those directly under him and he was aware of that, now you're talking about a comparison that would be valid. and i don't think that's the case.

>> reporter: but doesn't the buck stop in the oval office ?

>> americans are right to be angry about it. and i am angry about it.

>> reporter: even former aides say president obama was slow to act.

>> i think they could have reacted more quickly to these events. demonstrated more concern and more anger.

>> reporter: it's partly a matter of style. famously nod-drama obama.

>> he tends to be centered and focused. sometimes in almost a zen way.

>> reporter: some fault the president for not making friends in washington sooner with democrats or republicans.

>> why don't you get a drink with mitch mcconnell , they ask. really? why don't you get a drink with mitch mcconnell . [ laughter ]

>> reporter: after iran-contra, reagan shook up the staff to get control.

>> i told people i did not trade arms for hostages.

>> reporter: bill clinton had to overcome impeachment, george w. bush , failure to reform social security . the obama team seems confident its second-term problems will blow over despite warning signs .

>> when you're under siege, when your whole legislative agenda and your legacy are in danger of being swallowed up by conspiracy theorists, that's when you have to be more direct and more aggressive.

>> reporter: tonight, signs that the message may be sinking in. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington.