Like I said earlier this morning, I don’t begrudge Presidents their opportunities to get out of Washington for a little down time. Hypocrisy, however, about that down time deserves as much scorn and ridicule as possible. Earlier this morning, USA Today’s Richard Wolf reported with more than a little snark that Barack Obama achieved an important milestone at Martha’s Vineyard while the world turned, the Atlantic churned, and Tripoli burned:
It took President Obama nearly a week, but he’s played the trifecta: golf courses in the three main Martha’s Vineyard hubs of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
With an earthquake down, a hurricane to come and a revolution in full revolt across the Atlantic, Obama nevertheless did what he likes to do best Wednesday. He golfed. …
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest gets peppered with questions regularly about whether Obama will cut short his trip, or interrupt it — say, to meet with his national security or economic team as he continues to monitor events in Libya and the sputtering jobs picture. Or simply to avoid Hurricane Irene, which could reach Cape Cod this weekend.
Each time, the answer is the roughly the same: “I don’t know any conversations that have occurred like that at this point,” he said Wednesday.
Brad Dayspring took the opportunity to needle former White House spokesman Bill Burton on Twitter over the report:
.@BDayspring what’s the word on the Speaker’s handicap this summer? Is all the fundraising taking a toll on his swing?
Funny Burton should mention “fundraising.” As it turns out, Obama has been meeting with some of his biggest donors during his taxpayer-funded vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, as ABC News reported yesterday, including on the golf course:
The presidential foursome on Saturday also included UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and a major campaign donor. Wolf gave the maximum legal contribution to Obama in 2008 and again for 2012, Federal Election Commission records show. …
On Saturday, Obama visited the home of Harvard University law professor Charles Ogletree, who taught both the President and First Lady in law school and regularly summers on the island, according to local press reports.
Ogletree one day earlier co-hosted a Democratic fundraiser – billed as “Voices for Obama” – at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, where Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave the keynote address.
Then on Sunday, Obama traveled to the West Tisbury mansion of Comcast CEO Brian and Aileen Roberts, where he spent more than an hour mingling at an intimate gathering.
Roberts, who oversees the nation’s largest video and internet company, serves on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. While FEC records indicate Roberts has not yet contributed to the president’s reelection campaign, one of his Comcast colleagues – executive vice president David Cohen – is a top Obama fundraiser, bundling more than $500,000 for the 2012 campaign so far this year.
And let’s not forget that Obama has already attended one hundred and twenty-seven fundraisers this year, which USA Today noted last week far outpaced the previous two Presidents:
President Obama has headlined 127 fundraising events for himself and others, significantly outpacing the fundraising activity of the previous five presidents during their first terms, new research obtained by USA TODAY shows.
By comparison, President George W. Bush had held 88 fundraisers and President Clinton, 76, at this point in their first terms, according to data compiled by Brendan Doherty, an assistant professor of politicial science at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Doherty, who also studies presidential activity with the non-partisan White House Transition Project, examined fundraising going back to President Carter.
This is one White House and its allies that have absolutely no room to lecture anyone on time spent at golf courses or fundraisers. Besides, while Boehner has an important position as Speaker of the House, he’s not the nation’s Chief Executive, and the only entity Boehner runs is a Congress that’s on a normally scheduled recess. If Obama and his allies can’t tell the difference, well … that would actually explain a lot.
Update: Burton is no longer at the White House, of course; he left earlier this year. He now runs a consultant shop to help elect Democrats to office. I’ve made the adjustments above.