In a gesture of regal magnanimity to the proletarian classes, President Barack Obama revealed a change to his travel schedule on Friday. The president had planned to stay in New York City overnight after attending a Democratic fundraiser in Rhode Island, but events – and political concerns –changed his thinking. But not everyone is taking the president’s gesture at face value.
During the White House press briefing on Friday, Fox News White House Correspondent Ed Henry grilled Press Sec. Josh Earnest on whether it was prudent for the president to golf and fundraise for his party while terrorist acts are being committed against the United States – acts for which Obama has admitted his administration has no comprehensive response.
“I wonder what you think about the optics of the president, from that podium yesterday, does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS in serious military, and then next day, without that strategy, goes out and raises campaign money?” Henry asked Earnest.
Earnest’s response was underwhelming. The president did attempt to craft a strategy to address the ISIS threat. At least one report indicates that it was Obama who was one of the few dissenters, while many members of his administration recommended taking the fight to the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold.
Henry noted that this latest flight from responsibility is similar to how the president reacted to the beheading of American journalist James Foley (Obama addressed the matter and then took to the golf course “within minutes,” as Henry noted).
“Is he detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore?” Henry asked. “Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”
“The job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different responsibilities at the same time,” Earnest replied, in defense of Obama’s fundraising and golfing. The secretary added that Obama has a national security team, to whom he has outsourced the job of looking after America’s national security challenges.
“One of his responsibilities as the head of the party is to support Democratic candidates who are on the ballot,” Earnest noted.
Indeed, that is the one aspect of the presidency that Obama has managed to get his hands around.
This is not the first time this summer the president was criticized for fundraising amid crisis. Obama was criticized for attending a fundraiser on July 17, hours after pro-Russian militants fired a missile manufactured in Russia at an airliner full of primarily Western European civilians, killing nearly 300.