Obama: AWOL as always when a crisis approaches

Ed Lasky

Politico runs a headline story focusing on President Obama's aloofness and how this has damaged his ability to accomplish things in Washington.

Manu Raju writes

He doesn't call. He doesn't write. He doesn't drop by for a visit.

That's what some of the most senior Democrats in Congress are experiencing from President Barack Obama these days.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is trying to cut a deal on the nation's fiscal crisis, but he can't recall the last time he talked to the president. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is in charge of one of Obama's top priorities -- preventing a rate increase on student loans -- but he hasn't talked to the president in months. And Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is the go-to guy on high gas prices, but the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hasn't spoken to the president much since the previous Congress.

"I think the reality is the current Congress is not constituted in a way that makes it likely that we can do very much," Bingaman said, "and that's reflected in what we wind up doing on the floor and understandably the president is not as engaged -- at least with me."

Obama is certainly in regular touch with the top Democratic leaders on the Hill -- Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid -- but when it comes to some key policymakers and chairmen in Democratic congressional politics, he's far less engaged than earlier in his presidency. The lack of communication not only reflects a gridlocked Congress in an election year, but it speaks to the president's personal style -- he's never been much of a schmoozing, back-slapping type in the spirit of Bill Clinton or Lyndon B. Johnson. And even though he came from the Senate, Obama wasn't there long enough to develop deep, bonding friendships with some of the old bulls in Congress.

This is an appalling state of affairs as America faces major problems in the days ahead-particularly the fiscal cliff that happens on January 1st (also known as Taxaggeddon-when major tax hikes, as well as spending cuts, are triggered absent any changes made in Washington). As Raju writes, "Some say the president -- along with congressional leaders -- needs to begin laying the groundwork now to avoid a catastrophic logjam that could ensue after the November elections".

When Democrats had a hammerlock in Congress the first two years of Obama's term, his aloofness was less noticeable. But now that Republicans control the House--and campaign season is in high gear - apparently Barack Obama has more worthwhile and self-centered ways to spend his time (fundraisers, for example).

He refuses to deal not just with Republicans but many Democrats as well. With Democrats no longer steamrolling legislation through Congress (it was so easy then when "soft despotism" was the rule in Washington), Barack Obama refuses to engage and work with others to deal with the nation's problems.  While his own needs to win reelection and his own oft-mentioned coldness may account for some of his distance, one should never underestimate Barack Obama's startling lack of a work ethic - a trait that has been noticeable for decades.

Maybe he is just too busy playing basketball with NBA stars, vacationing at  luxury resorts, playing golf with Chicago pals, listening to music in the East Room--after all why would he want to actually lower himself to talk with and work with Congressmen from "Podunk"  and "Pallookaville" - as he has characterized and complained about them in the past.

He promised to work across the aisle and to dissolve partisanship - to change things in Washington. He has to some extent. Every other President-be they Republican or Democrat-has actively worked with Congressmen from both parties on behalf of the American people.

President Obama has not.

Politico runs a headline story focusing on President Obama's aloofness and how this has damaged his ability to accomplish things in Washington.

Manu Raju writes

He doesn't call. He doesn't write. He doesn't drop by for a visit.

That's what some of the most senior Democrats in Congress are experiencing from President Barack Obama these days.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is trying to cut a deal on the nation's fiscal crisis, but he can't recall the last time he talked to the president. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is in charge of one of Obama's top priorities -- preventing a rate increase on student loans -- but he hasn't talked to the president in months. And Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is the go-to guy on high gas prices, but the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hasn't spoken to the president much since the previous Congress.

"I think the reality is the current Congress is not constituted in a way that makes it likely that we can do very much," Bingaman said, "and that's reflected in what we wind up doing on the floor and understandably the president is not as engaged -- at least with me."

Obama is certainly in regular touch with the top Democratic leaders on the Hill -- Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid -- but when it comes to some key policymakers and chairmen in Democratic congressional politics, he's far less engaged than earlier in his presidency. The lack of communication not only reflects a gridlocked Congress in an election year, but it speaks to the president's personal style -- he's never been much of a schmoozing, back-slapping type in the spirit of Bill Clinton or Lyndon B. Johnson. And even though he came from the Senate, Obama wasn't there long enough to develop deep, bonding friendships with some of the old bulls in Congress.

This is an appalling state of affairs as America faces major problems in the days ahead-particularly the fiscal cliff that happens on January 1st (also known as Taxaggeddon-when major tax hikes, as well as spending cuts, are triggered absent any changes made in Washington). As Raju writes, "Some say the president -- along with congressional leaders -- needs to begin laying the groundwork now to avoid a catastrophic logjam that could ensue after the November elections".

When Democrats had a hammerlock in Congress the first two years of Obama's term, his aloofness was less noticeable. But now that Republicans control the House--and campaign season is in high gear - apparently Barack Obama has more worthwhile and self-centered ways to spend his time (fundraisers, for example).

He refuses to deal not just with Republicans but many Democrats as well. With Democrats no longer steamrolling legislation through Congress (it was so easy then when "soft despotism" was the rule in Washington), Barack Obama refuses to engage and work with others to deal with the nation's problems.  While his own needs to win reelection and his own oft-mentioned coldness may account for some of his distance, one should never underestimate Barack Obama's startling lack of a work ethic - a trait that has been noticeable for decades.

Maybe he is just too busy playing basketball with NBA stars, vacationing at  luxury resorts, playing golf with Chicago pals, listening to music in the East Room--after all why would he want to actually lower himself to talk with and work with Congressmen from "Podunk"  and "Pallookaville" - as he has characterized and complained about them in the past.

He promised to work across the aisle and to dissolve partisanship - to change things in Washington. He has to some extent. Every other President-be they Republican or Democrat-has actively worked with Congressmen from both parties on behalf of the American people.

President Obama has not.