Yesterday, the Obama administration took its show on the road. Over the course of 12 hours or so, our president gave his signature bravura performance in the art of being all things to all people.
Around noon, President Obama flew into Buffalo, N.Y., a chronically depressed former industrial town that has been seeing job shrinkage for 40 plus years now, to tout the turnaround that will surely accompany his economic policies any day now. Pretty much any place in upstate N.Y. would have been equally unfortunate as a backdrop for recovery, given the state’s high taxes and anti-business policies, and the ensuing high structural unemployment. He brought his Small Business Administration honcho with him to visit a 200-person company called Industrial Support, Inc. He told the locals what they surely already knew: that real economic growth will have to come via small business development. Perhaps the speechwriters forgot the part about why a critical mass of entrepreneurs will suddenly choose to locate high-wage businesses in the area.
Though people had been lining up to see him since very early in the morning, he showed up significantly late. Why? Because, as he told them, grinning, he had to stop off at “Duff’s Hot Wings,” home of Buffalo’s signal contribution to American culture in the last many decades. Obama got hot wings and the requisite photo-op. Even better, a woman who dishes up hot wings called him a hottie. So cute.
(By the way, why do so many of Obama’s “I’m a real guy,” image-building moments involve snarfing the likes of cheeseburgers and wings, when his wife spends her time telling us not to eat junk food? I guess that’s what they think we commoners can relate to.)
Later in the afternoon, in Manhattan, Obama met with the valiant Times Square street vendor who said something when he saw something, to honor him for saving Times Square from last week’s Taliban provided car bomb. That was a nice personal touch, well deserved by a good citizen, and another great photo-op. It was undermined only slightly by the reality of inadequate resources for combating terrorism that the White House announced that it would allocate to New York, just a day earlier. This despite proof beyond a reasonable doubt that New York is a target, 24/7. When Sen. Charles Schumer, a loyal Democrat, pointed that out fairly vehemently, the White House noted that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, because New York could use some of its TARP money to augment the security budget.
But the real reason the president was in the city — the state — became clear in the evening. He was here for a fundraiser. A very-big-deal DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) fundraiser. At the very posh St. Regis, he joined Nancy Pelosi (whose request he could hardly refuse, given what she did for him with health care), and most of the New York congressional delegation, to chat with donors. These were serious donors at a very big-ticket event. The base price for a ticket was $15,000 a person/$30,000 a couple. Or you could pay $25,000/$50,000 for a VIP party, along with your picture and dinner. Solid citizens. And the president didn’t show up an hour late, even though New York City has plenty of local ethnic food you can pick up on the way. Not the right note for the event, of course.
Kind of a grueling day, wouldn’t you say? I hope he gets time for golf this weekend.