Fiddling While Rome Burns: Obama Isn't Working — Literally

Fiddling While Rome Burns: Obama Isn't Working — Literally

With a nation still at war and facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, one would think President Barack Obama would be “focused like a laser” on America’s national security and economic rebuilding.

But as two investigations by the Government Accountability Institute reveal, the president has spent less than four percent of his total time in office in economic meetings or briefings of any kind. That’s a total of just 412 hours spent working on the economy at a time when 23 million Americans are desperate for a job.

As for his duties as commander-in-chief, Mr. Obama attended only 43.8 percent–less than half–of his Presidential Daily Briefs (PDB) where presidents are briefed on the nation’s most pressing intelligence threats.

It’s shocking, really–enough to make the average citizen wonder: “just what does the president do all day while America crumbles?”

But when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about his response to a Washington Post opinion article by Marc Thiessen citing the abysmal PDB findings, what was Mr. Carney response? He said he found the report “hilarious.”

The president of the United States fails to attend over half his daily briefings on the nation’s gravest threats, and his spokesman finds that “hilarious”?

Visibly irritated and tellingly defensive, Mr. Carney continued:

MR. CARNEY: He gets it every day, okay? The President of the United States gets the presidential daily briefing every day. There is a document that he reads every day when he is not — well, he always reads it every day because he’s a voracious consumer of all of his briefing materials. And when he is physically here, most days he has a meeting in his office, the Oval one — (laughter) — with participants in — his national security team, including obviously Tom Donilon and others. He also has regular meetings with…

Q: This is about the physical briefing from whoever is giving it versus the written briefing?

MR. CARNEY: This was a case of — I don’t know how far I want to go here, but I believe if you compare our foreign policy record with the one that preceded this one, we’re comfortable with that comparison. And this President is very much steeped in the details of national security issues and the information that as President he received.

Q: Do you believe this report was misleading?

MR. CARNEY: I believe the article written about it was amusing.

Let’s get this straight: Mr. Carney’s beef is not with the “empty chair” presidential approach demonstrated in the report’s statistical tabulations–the “arithmetic,” President Clinton would call it–but rather the panache and polemical style of President George W. Bush’s eloquent former speechwriter, Marc Thiessen? How out of touch can one White House be?

There is nothing “hilarious” about a president playing hokey while real unemployment is at a staggering 19 percent. 

There is nothing “hilarious” about a president simply “phoning it in” on national security in a time of war.

But Mr. Obama’s laziness should hardly surprise anyone. After all, in an interview with Barbara Walters, the president admitted that laziness was the thing he “deplored” most in himself. “You know, it’s interesting,” Obama told Walters. “There is a deep down, underneath all the work that I do, I think there’s a laziness in me. It’s probably from, you know, growing up in Hawaii and it’s sunny outside, and sitting on the beach.”

There you have it, straight from the president’s own mouth–further confirmation as to why the president of the United States has spent just 412 hours of his presidency on the economic disaster and has attended less than half of his intelligence briefings, a fact the president’s spokesman finds “hilarious.”

Mr. Carney’s cavalier attitude is a perfect crystallization of what ails the Obama White House, a seeming disconnect with the pain of everyday citizens. Indeed, as 23 million Americans claw and scrape to find a job, Mr. Obama seems perfectly content not doing his own.

It’s not cute.

The nation isn’t laughing.

America is mad as hell. 


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