President Obama, we are assured, is “apoplectic” and “furious” over the scandal at the General Services Administration. David Axelrod says so.
How does Axelrod know? The answer illustrates the collapse of governing at the Obama White House.
Axelrod does not work for the United States in any capacity. He is Obama’s campaign strategist. He does not work in Washington. He lives and works in Chicago, headquarters of the Obama campaign.
Yet he is the go-to guy when the administration has something to say, even on important taxpayer business like the GSA scandal. So there he was Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” segueing between comments on government and the campaign.
He said “we” when he meant the White House, as though they are the same. Sadly, for most purposes, they are.
This is not a case of a man wearing two hats. It is an illustration of how governing has taken a back seat to campaigning. Obama has put aside his day job and turned full time to the quest for four more years.
There is no budget, and no serious attempt by the White House to make one. The explosion of debts and deficits, growing strains on Medicare and Social Security, the expiration of tax cuts, warnings from Europe about the impact of debts on markets— all set aside until after the election. So, too, plans the president has on foreign policy, the Mideast, gay marriage, carbon taxes and regulations.
Incumbency is a powerful tool, and no president forsakes its advantage. Yet the impression of Obama’s first two years, that he never stopped campaigning, has morphed into the sense that he does nothing else. When it comes to the people’s business, there is no there there.
He has held twice as many fund-raisers as George W. Bush at this stage, most involving the ultimate perk — the use of Air Force One, with taxpayers picking up most of the cost.
His official trips outside Washington virtually all involve battleground states. He has been to Ohio 20 times, Florida 16 times, Pennsylvania 15 and Michigan 11, according to CBS News.
Obama’s bid to energize the youth vote is an excuse to visit other swing states. He flew yesterday to the University of North Carolina for his 11th visit to that state, then to the University of Colorado, for visit No. 7 there. Today, he is scheduled to address students in Iowa — his eighth visit there.
He’s making the rounds of another part of his base, the late-night comedy shows. He made his first comments since the dimensions of the Secret Service prostitution case became known on the Jimmy Fallon show Tuesday. Yuk, yuk, ha ha.
Taxpayers are on the hook for this charade because the president is using the trip to push a bill to freeze interest rates on student loans. It’s the perfect two-fer, a campaign issue in swing states that passes for government action. All with a little fun on the side, of course.
With Axelrod surely behind the gambit, a cynic could argue that having one man wear two hats is efficient. But the White House doesn’t even have to make that fatuous claim because the press doesn’t question Axelrod’s dual role.
Previous presidents sent a top aide out to explain government business, but this White House seems hollowed out of serious adults. Obama’s latest chief of staff, former budget director Jack Lew, bungled the facts on Senate rules so badly in his first appearance that he went into hiding.
Obama could send out the vice president, though that could be really dicey. Joe Biden visited the Everglades Monday and ended up joking that his Secret Service staff might shoot a Florida official named Ronald Bergeron.
A recording and transcript, available on CNSNews.com, captures Biden’s bizarre ramble: “But you see this man right here, my Secret Service guy? He played in pro football, also was on that national championship team that Clemson had. He said if I go, he’ll shoot you, Ronnie, so I’m only kidding. That’s not true. He didn’t say he’d shoot Ronnie. He said he’d shoot the alligator if I went. I just think it’s incredible, and I still think you’re nuts, Ronnie.”
So that’s what the Obama presidency has come to: Axelrod or idiocy.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist. To continue reading his column on other topics, including the War on Terror and Al Qaeda, click here.