'Sleepy' Obama going through the motions
Some remarkable - and frightening - photos of President Obama that show just how disengaged he's become. As crisis at home and around the world mount, the president is withdrawing and making it plain to those willing to see that the presidency doesn't interest him anymore.
Peggy Noonan's July 4 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal laid out the case for the president's apparent ennui:
In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him—well, changed. He is "taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting "star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.
On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with "interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes" interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' ''
Minuscule? Politics is his job.
When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida. He went. At the "lush Ocean Reef Club," he reportedly told his dinner companions: "I needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time with friends."
You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of concerns.
Yesterday, Reuters released two photos of the president meeting with Governor Rick Perry. As Perry and his people sat with serious looks on their faces waiting to discuss the crisis at the border, the president is seen yucking it up with his aides.
After that meeting with Perry, the Texas governor complained “A leader acts, and what I haven’t seen out of this president are actions that makes me think he understands what’s going on.”
Later, the president had a photo op with a young woman who wrote to him last year about the plight of her parents who had both lost their jobs. The meeting took place in a diner and the president appeared drowsy and disinterested during the meeting.
Already under attack by critics who say he’s lost interest in his job, President Obama added fuel to the fire on Thursday with a drowsy appearance in Texas.
A heavy-lidded Obama struggled to keep his head up during a one-on-one talk in an Austin cafe with a college student whose parents lost their jobs last year.
Kinsey Button, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, huddled with the president in a booth at the Magnolia Cafe, where he ordered hot tea and she sipped coffee while discussing her parents’ plight.
The meeting was a break for Obama, who since his arrival in Texas Wednesday has been hammered politically for not visiting the border crossing that’s being flooded by thousands of children from Central America.
Button, 20, had written to Obama late last year describing her family’s troubles.
Her dad, an engineer, was laid off and struggling to land another job. Button said he was often rejected as overqualified.
Her mom, a preschool teacher, lost her position, as well.
In the months since Button wrote the White House — and was invited to chat with Obama — her family’s fortunes have turned around.
Mom enrolled in a community college, and Dad found work in manufacturing.
Noonan thinks we are witnessing something "unprecedented":
It is weird to have a president who has given up. So many young journalists diligently covering this White House, especially those for whom it is their first, think what they're seeing is normal.
It is not. It is unprecedented and deeply strange. And, because the world is watching and calculating, unbelievably dangerous.
Unbelievably dangerous, indeed.