Mr. Obama is hardly the first American president to grapple with a distraction, a diversion — an outright red herring, some might call it — that grew bigger than itself. Ronald Reagan had the Air Force’s $7,622 coffeepot and the Navy’s $435 claw hammer, as well as an ill-fated effort to save money by classifying ketchup as a school lunch vegetable. Bill Clinton had midnight basketball and a high-priced haircut from a Beverly Hills stylist aboard Air Force One.
So there you have it. Obama signed legislation that specifically authorized payments of the bonuses in question, but later feigned outrage when it turned out that many of us ordinary folks -- ya know, the "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion" -- were none too pleased about it. But for the NY Times, this whole scandal is tantamount to an overpriced coffeepot, a fancy haircut or an assertion that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable.
Of course, I actually agree with the Times that the bonus scandal is a "distraction" insofar as it is merely the tip of the iceberg of the money that's being wasted by this administration. But that's not how the Times meant it.