During the interview, Obama was highly critical of freshman Senator Ted Cruz for his role in the government shutdown. Obama slammed Cruz and other freshman Republican senators for their high media profiles.
If the president had given a moment of thought to his words, it might have dawned on him that the description matched the behavior of another senator during his freshman year in 2005. That senator’s name? Barack Obama.
Below is one of Obama’s statements from the AP interview that reeks of hypocrisy:
I recognize that in today’s media age, being controversial, taking controversial positions, rallying the most extreme parts of your base, whether it’s left or right, is a lot of times the fastest way to get attention and raise money. But it’s not good for government.
President Obama’s AP interview has spawned some media controversy. Politico reports:
President Obama was once a high-profile first-term senator, but he doesn’t think the current crop — including Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — is serving the country well as they seek out controversy.
Then, Time in their Swampland blog reports:
President Barack Obama, elected as a first-term senator in 2008, took a swipe at Republican freshman Sen. Ted Cruz for focusing on building a political base instead of governing.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Julie Pace of the Associated Press, the president said that when he was in Congress he ‘didn’t go around courting the media. And I certainly didn’t go around trying to shut down the government.’
Seriously? The president must have some memory loss because he forgot that he tried to defund the government by voting against raising the debt ceiling in 2006.
Here is his now-famous quote from the Senate floor on March 16, 2006:
America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.
Just for fun, let’s turn back the clock to 2005, during President Obama’s first year as senator, and read what the “Obama friendly” media reported about this rising-star freshman Senator.
Obama’s hometown newspaper the Chicago Tribune had a fascinating piece about how the senator was dealing with fame and keeping his ego in check:
After he was sworn into office, he shunned the limelight to present himself as a humble freshman. By fall, those self-imposed restraints had vanished. And his strategic plan calls for raising his profile even more in 2006.
Not only did Senator Obama work on raising his national profile during his first years in the Senate but his world profile as well. NBC News reported this headline in 2007:
Obama most costly world traveler – First term senator’s charges nearly 45% higher than classmates
Barack Obama’s two years in the Senate have taken him around the world, from Russia to Iraq to Kenya – an itinerary more costly to taxpayers than any other senator who took office with him.
The Illinois Democrat’s travels in 2005 and 2006 cost taxpayers nearly $28,000 as he studied nuclear proliferation, AIDS, Middle Eastern violence and more.
Obviously, Senator Obama got into some frequent traveling habits courtesy of the American taxpayer that were hard to break and even accelerated as President.
Finally, if you are wondering why President Obama is the weak leader he has turned out to be, here is a New York Times piece from March 9, 2008 with an almost eerie headline:
Obama in Senate: Star Power, Minor Role
Senator Barack Obama stood before Washington’s elite at the spring dinner of the storied Gridiron Club. In self-parody, he ticked off his accomplishments, little more than a year after arriving in town.
‘I’ve been very blessed,’ Mr. Obama told the crowd assembled in March 2006. ‘Keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. The cover of Newsweek. My book made the best-seller list. I just won a Grammy for reading it on tape.
‘Really, what else is there to do?’ he said, his smile now broad. ‘Well, I guess I could pass a law or something.’
They were the two competing elements in Mr. Obama’s time in the Senate: his megawatt celebrity and the realities of the job he was elected to do.
He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be ‘looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.’ But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the ‘glacial pace,’ he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.
That last line mirrors what The Hill reports in a piece today called Smash-mouth Reid: “President Obama has handed over the reins of leadership on government funding and the debt limit to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “
So let’s rewrite the last line from that 2008 NYT report to sum up where Obama is today. Instead of, “He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors” it should read: “Obama is the President but he has disappeared from the Capitol corridors.”