It’s Not the Fundraising

by Jonah Goldberg

President Obama won’t stop going to fundraisers. Much of the beltway discussion about this boils down to a lot of trite commentary about “optics.” Yes, the optics are bad, but not because he’s going to fundraisers. Every president has raised money on the job, though Obama seems to enjoy it more than most. (Bill Clinton still holds the record and he, too, very much liked talking to audiences that loved him). The optics are bad because he doesn’t seem to be very good at his job. Events around the globe and at home seem to be beyond his control and, at times, his comprehension. George W. Bush had a similar problem when Iraq was in chaos and his response to Katrina seemed woefully inadequate (this latter perception wasn’t wholly unreasonable but it was fueled to the point of hysteria by a press corps that collectively lost its mind over the story). If the economy was going great and Obama seemed like a steady hand at the tiller of state, no one would much care about his fundraising schedule. Dwight Eisenhower played a lot of golf during scary chapters in American history, but Eisenhower seemed fully in command of the situation. The bad optics of these fundraisers stem from the fact that talking to people who already agree with him is the only thing that really engages this president. It also fuels the sense that, despite all of his talk about fighting cynicism, his only real priority is — as always — partisan advantage. 

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