Actually, says Peter Schweizer, the number is zero, but he’s crediting O for having once met with Sebelius and a single other cabinet member. More than three and a half years ago.
Remember, this is the same guy who said recently of the website, “We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to.” A possible clue:
A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) analysis finds that from July 12, 2010, to Nov. 30, 2013, the president’s public schedule records zero one-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius. Equally shocking, over the same period, the president’s calendar lists 277 private meetings with his other Cabinet secretaries (excluding full Cabinet meetings).
Given these startling findings, and the fact that the White House calendar did not reflect meetings prior to July 12, 2010, GAI researchers then performed a second analysis using another respected recorder of presidential activity, the POLITICO presidential calendar. The results: Just one April 21, 2010 entry was found listing a White House meeting between Obama and Sebelius—and even that was a joint meeting with then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner…
To be sure, presidents exchange emails and phone calls that are not recorded on White House calendars. Still, why would the White House calendar list by name one-on-one meetings with 16 other Cabinet secretaries but omit Sebelius if other meetings with her occurred? Wouldn’t Obama want to catalog for all to see his personal devotion to the law that bears his name?
Schweizer wonders whether O and his deputies deliberately kept Sebelius away just in case the project went to hell, so that Obama could plead ignorance later as a defense to the charge of gross incomptence. That was my first hunch too, but why would they have taken that approach so soon after the law was passed? If they were trying to quarantine Sebelius, I would assume they’d have done it once the first signs of development problems started showing, not a month after he signed the bill. There had to be some period, certainly longer than a month, where he was optimistic that this rocket could get off the launch pad.
Regardless, the irony of Schweizer’s piece is that it’ll ultimately prove more useful to the left than to the right. Liberals will sneer at him for it today, dismissing the lack of personal interaction between O and S as irrelevant and typical of how modern bureaucracies work. Obama’s their guy for the next three years so they’ll do what it takes to defend him. Three years from now, though, assuming O-Care’s still on the books and groggily stumbling along, they’ll point back to this piece as evidence that the real problem isn’t the law, it was Obama’s odd passivity and disengagement. A more proactive executive — like, say, Hillary Clinton — would have made time for Sebelius every day. Watch and see.
Via RCP, here’s video of the one pitch that Matthews threw him in yesterday’s interview that had a little heat on it. Simple question: Do you have “strong top-down authority”? What is it about your management system that would allow the website problem to snowball? Key bit from O’s reply:
Generally speaking, my theory has been, number one, that yes, I’ve got a strong Chief of Staff but I’m holding every cabinet member accountable and I want to have strong interactions with them, directly. Number two, is I have an open door policy where I want people bringing me bad news on time so that we can fix things. And, you know, the challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization. It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier which is we had these big agencies, some of which are outdated.
He’s a hands-on manager saddled with a bloated bureaucracy who craves direct problem-solving interaction with his subordinates. And also, he met alone with his quarterback on ObamaCare once in three and a half years. What?