The Hill: That WH tour-canceling gambit sure is flopping, huh?
posted at 11:21 am on March 14, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
It’s not too difficult to come to that conclusion. The Obama administration has gone from blaming Congress for the cancellation of tours, to blaming the Secret Service, to exonerating the Secret Service and griping about Congress again, without ever once reconciling the issue with, say, parties at the White House. The Hill is just reporting what’s obvious — that Barack Obama overreached yet again in grandstanding on the sequester:
The White House is playing defense over the decision to cancel tours at President Obama’s residence, the latest stumble for Obama in the messaging war with Republicans over the sequester.
White House press secretary Jay Carney fielded a series of pointed questions Wednesday about why the tours had to be canceled. Emboldened House Republicans also challenged Obama on the issue at a private meeting on Capitol Hill. …
Since the decision was announced last week, Obama and administration officials have said the decision was made by the Secret Service — which spends roughly $74,000 a week to allow for the tours — in order to avoid furloughs and other cutbacks necessitated by the sequester’s automatic spending cuts.
But that explanation backfired, observers say.
“Using the tours to send a message seemed like a surefire winner,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of communications at Boston University who specializes in political communication and advertising. “I think the White House was expecting everyone to go ‘Oh, this is so horrible!’ but this time it didn’t play, perhaps because it was too overt.”
Reporters also wondered how may tours Obama could fund with an upcoming trip to Illinois:
Reporters at the White House briefing returned to the topic when they questioned Carney about how much it would cost Obama to travel to Illinois later in the week.
The White House spokesman responded by saying that Obama travels around the country “appropriately” and that he “has to travel around the world.”
“It’s his job,” Carney said.
Since it costs around $180,000 per hour to operate Air Force One, and it’s six hours in the air back and forth from DC to Illinois, just the air costs alone are $1.08 million. Even at the ridiculous cost quoted by the White House of $74,000 a week for the tours — are any of those agents furloughed at the moment, by the way? — that’s good for 15 weeks of tours right there. So what exactly is in Illinois that’s Obama’s “job” this week, other than trying to keep pushing the Nightmare on Sequester Street scare stories?
Because that’s apparently going to continue to be the strategy:
Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said while the cancellation of the tours is a “headache” for the White House, it could still win the blame game over the sequester as more cuts are felt.
Lots of people in Las Vegas keep doubling down, too, expecting that eventually they’ll win. Good luck on that plan.