Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Fierce Urgency of Town Halls and Political Galas

When President Obama popped in at yesterday's White House press briefing, he gave the impression he'd be personally involved in intense budget negotiations with Republicans to avert what many believe is an imminent government shutdown.
Hovering Above It All
But according to the official schedule released today, the president will be leaving town right after lunch - first, for a Town Hall event in Philly and then to a fundraiser for Al Sharpton in Manhattan.  I guess his "team" will be handling the crisis in  his absence.... the latest in a line of absences both physical and political.  As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones puts it: "Obama has long followed a strategy of letting other people fight pitched battles for awhile and then parachuting in towards the end to act as peacemaker."

But his re-election campaign beckons, so never let a crisis get in the way of a good town hall.  Obama plans to meet with workers at Gamesa, a Spain-based wind turbine company with a factory in Pennsylvania that constructed the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm.  Since Hispanics will be a key voting bloc in 2012, the President is going a-courting now.  And then, on to his second foray into the Big Apple in less than a week, a political payback of sorts to Al Sharpton at the National Action Networks gala at the Sheraton Hotel.  Sharpton was initially a Hillary supporter, but made up with Obama before the convention.

The president arrives at Kennedy Airport at 5 p.m., just in time for the evening rush.  Local news outlets are treating the story as A Traffic Gridlock of Epic Proportions.  New Yorkers tend to get irate when a president breezes into town at  inconvenient times on an increasingly consistent basis.  But that's okay. Irate New Yorkers will get the chance to let off some steam next weekend (4/15) in what promises to be a gala mass demonstration in Union Square against the banksters and the kleptocrats.  Somehow I don't think any politician of either political party will be in town for the occasion.  

They call the presidential route through Manhattan a Frozen Zone.  And despite all the heated rhetoric coming out of D.C., the budget talks seem to be in the deep freeze as well, at least as far as Obama is concerned.  Here's what he said yesterday:

"The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown.  Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people?  At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown.  Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan.  You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.

So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved."

Only, he'll be MIA for a total of 10 hours today.  His defenders, or apologists, will likely continue to say he's no-drama Obama, the only grown-up in the room, he likes to stay detached, he knows what he's doing.  In one respect, he's like an annoying helicopter parent, always hovering near the children's activities but never getting directly involved or, heaven forbid, getting angry or showing who's the boss.

Kevin Drum said he likes to parachute in at the last minute.  But I'm afraid that this time, he's merely bailed out.

** Update, 7:05 p.m.  The New York Times now reports that Obama will meet with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  immediately upon his helicopter landing tonight at 8:45 p.m. I guess the three-minute quickie phone call he made to Boehner before blowing town earlier today didn't do the trick.


Anne Lavoie said...

Like voting 'Present', only he's not. The man is always and forever looking out for himself. He keeps a safe distance from the fray - far enough so someone else can take the blame, but close enough to take credit if it suits him.

I am so sick of him I could hurl!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anne! I went to post a comment and found that you had said everything I was going to write! All I can say is ditto!

Valerie Long Tweedie

Anonymous said...

Too bad we can't find a better candidate for a primary challenge. From where I sit, I think that unfortunately the 2012 election will come down to a vote for the lesser of two evils. Parliamentary system anyone?