In his press conference on the Gulf oil spill last Thursday, Barack Obama attempted to push back against the idea that he hasn’t focused enough on the disaster — despite waiting 36 days to finally take questions about it from the press. He insisted that he had a singular focus on stopping the oil spill and getting it cleaned up, and that it occupied his entire attention:
Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don’t know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred.
Personally, I’m briefed every day, and have probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review. And we understood from day one the potential enormity of this crisis, and acted accordingly.
So when it comes to the moment this crisis occurred moving forward, this entire White House and this entire federal government has been singularly focused on how do we stop the leak and how do we prevent and mitigate the damage to our coastlines. …
And so my job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about — the spill.
Singular, eh? Well … no, not really. The web site PolitiPage gives its readers a pictorial of Obama’s days and nights for each of the days following the Gulf spill until three days after Obama’s press conference. According to my count, the days and nights of Obama during the crisis have involved:
- Two days of media events (White House Correspondents Dinner and a tête a tête with Bono)
- Three days of fundraising
- Four commemorations
- Six days of vacation
- Six days of campaigning
- Six sports events
- Seven days of golf
No one expects any President to have a “singular” focus on one issue at a time; this job requires a multi-tasker. But we do expect some focus on the job. In 36 days, Obama seems to have little time for any real presidential work at all … except perhaps when he wakes up and when he goes to sleep.
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