In the finale of season three of “Downton Abbey,” the aging matriarch of the popular show’s aristocratic family, Dowager Countess of Grantham, finds herself uncomfortably out of her element on a picnic in the Scottish highlands.
Someone in the party compliments the host on the majestic scenery, to which her lady quips, as she swishes an insect from her face: “That’s the thing about nature. There’s so much of it.”
For those of us who watch and comment on the incredible shrinking Obama presidency, we might use the same construct: “That’s the thing about Obama hypocrisy. There’s so much of it.”
Just when you think this presidency can’t betray it’s founding rhetoric any more, another astonishing revelation comes along to show that Barack Obama and crew have only begun to sell out the promises of their alleged “hope and change” administration.
Here’s the latest: Instead of disbanding his fundraising machine after his successful re-election campaign last year, President Obama flipped it into a lobbying group called Organizing for Action. The calling card for OFA, according to The New York Times, is any donor of $500,000 or more gets a quarterly face-to-face meeting with the president to discuss policy.
The president and all his men rationalize this kind of influence peddling as perfectly good government because OFA is an “independent” lobbying group.
No, what President Obama is doing now, ladies and gentlemen, is what selling government looks like. This is cash-on-the-barrel cronyism. This is payola that, in a less corrupt time, might be the subject of a Justice Department grand jury investigation.
Barack Obama has become the evil straw man he campaigned against. Remember what Barack Obama said when announcing his candidacy for president? He said to a cheering crowd:
“And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what’s filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It’s time to turn the page.”
Well, a lot fewer are cheering now. It’s no longer possible to reconcile Obama in word to Obama in deed.
Even Common Cause President Bob Edgar says, “If President Obama is serious about his often-expressed desire to rein in big money in politics, he should shut down Organizing for Action and disavow any plan to schedule regular meetings with its major donors.”
But perhaps the most important event in terms of changing how the nation views this White House came when Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward called out the Obama crew for its version of the genesis of sequestration. Woodward said his reporting showed sequestration was the administration’s idea, not the GOP’s.
Woodward said senior White House aide Gene Sperling, economic adviser to the president, “yelled at me for about half-hour” and then wrote him to apologize for raising his voice, adding “I think you will regret staking out that claim.” Woodward, of “All the President’s Men” fame, told Politico that he took it as a threat.
“‘You’ll regret?’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”
This Woodward episode may signal a change in the Beltway reporting. This is a president who believes he is above questioning. He doesn’t have to meet with reporters anymore, unless it is with friendly reporters who can be relied upon to make him look good. This White House has become an imperial White House that bristles when challenged on facts or motive.
It’s time, for the good of the country, for the media to get its Jack Anderson on.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.lvrj.com/blogs/sherm.