Opinion: It’s All But Official — Campaigning Trumps Governing at the Obama White House

It’s all but official — campaigning trumps governing at the Obama White House

By Michael Goodwin

Published April 25, 2012 |  New York Post


President Obama, we are assured, is “apoplectic” and “furious” over the scandal at the General Services Administration. David Axelrod says so.

How does Axelrod know? The answer illustrates the collapse of governing at the Obama White House.

Axelrod does not work for the United States in any capacity. He is Obama’s campaign strategist. He does not work in Washington. He lives and works in Chicago, headquarters of the Obama campaign.

Yet he is the go-to guy when the administration has something to say, even on important taxpayer business like the GSA scandal. So there he was Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” segueing between comments on government and the campaign.

He said “we” when he meant the White House, as though they are the same. Sadly, for most purposes, they are.

This is not a case of a man wearing two hats. It is an illustration of how governing has taken a back seat to campaigning. Obama has put aside his day job and turned full time to the quest for four more years.

There is no budget, and no serious attempt by the White House to make one. The explosion of debts and deficits, growing strains on Medicare and Social Security, the expiration of tax cuts, warnings from Europe about the impact of debts on markets— all set aside until after the election. So, too, plans the president has on foreign policy, the Mideast, gay marriage, carbon taxes and regulations.

Incumbency is a powerful tool, and no president forsakes its advantage. Yet the impression of Obama’s first two years, that he never stopped campaigning, has morphed into the sense that he does nothing else. When it comes to the people’s business, there is no there there.

He has held twice as many fund-raisers as George W. Bush at this stage, most involving the ultimate perk — the use of Air Force One, with taxpayers picking up most of the cost.

His official trips outside Washington virtually all involve battleground states. He has been to Ohio 20 times, Florida 16 times, Pennsylvania 15 and Michigan 11, according to CBS News.

Obama’s bid to energize the youth vote is an excuse to visit other swing states. He flew yesterday to the University of North Carolina for his 11th visit to that state, then to the University of Colorado, for visit No. 7 there. Today, he is scheduled to address students in Iowa — his eighth visit there.