President Obama has been called many things, both complimentary and uncomplimentary, during his term in office. The newest description: He’s lazy.
This assessment comes courtesy of Roger Ailes, Fox News Channel president and Fox Television Stations Group chairman. In an upcoming biography about Mr. Ailes written by Zev Chafets, Mr. Ailes reportedly made this statement: “Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.”
News travels fast in Washington’s various circles of interest. Within nanoseconds, the liberal establishment went wild upon hearing their beloved progressive president was being attacked by the conservative Fox News chief. They claimed Mr. Ailes’ comment was everything from moronic to racist. In one case, MSNBC’s “The Cycle” host Toure told Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” that this “sort of ‘lazy’ term is something we heard flung at us as black people going back to slavery, which, of course, you know, we perceive them as being guilty of not wanting to work. Of course they didn’t want to work. They were slaves.”
It doesn’t take much to figure out the person who drew this imaginary line between laziness and racism was completely out to lunch. Yet there’s a much more interesting component to this story. You see, there’s another sentence in this passage from Mr. Chafets’ book that the pro-Obama contingent conveniently ignored: “[Mr. Ailes] noticed my arched eyebrows and added, ‘I didn’t come up with that. Obama said that, to Barbara Walters.’ “
It’s true. In a December 2011 ABC News interview, Mr. Obama told Ms. Walters, “There is a deep down, underneath all the work I do, I think there’s a laziness in me. It’s probably from, you know, growing up in Hawaii, and it’s sunny outside and sitting on the beach.”
Hence, Mr. Ailes didn’t say anything wrong. He was only repeating a similar statement made by the president. (Don’t shed any tears for Toure. His vivid imagination will remain in high demand on the champagne and caviar circuit.)
Yet if we begrudgingly accept Mr. Obama’s self-admission of “laziness,” should we also tolerate the fact that this character flaw may help make him a lazy president?
Certainly, Mr. Obama worked to some degree in his first term. Whether we agree or disagree with his personal politics and economic strategies, he wouldn’t have survived last year’s presidential election if he had sat around and done nothing. He’s definitely been taking it easy in his second term, however.
Consider his round of golf with Tiger Woods. Last month, Mr. Obama extended an invitation to the world’s former top-ranked golfer, who has been trying to rehabilitate his shattered image since his widely reported sex scandal. The media was kept away from this event. With the exception of still photos, a smattering of video clips and a few comments by Mr. Woods and the White House, that’s all we know about it.
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the president and Mr. Woods playing golf. Yet, according to the Obama Golf Counter website, Mr. Obama has played 115 rounds of golf since moving into the White House. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of time spent on the links.
Is Mr. Obama allowed to occasionally unwind? Of course. Do people discuss business and other matters on a golf course? Yes. Should the president spend a significant amount of time out of the office? No, because it provides a poor impression about his work ethic and commitment.
Considering the current financial malaise, that’s a terrible strategy. Although Mr. Obama didn’t start this economic downturn, he’s contributed more than his fair share by extending the auto bailout plan, adding costly programs like “Obamacare” and overseeing horrific monthly unemployment numbers. The recent budget sequestration, of which the president must shoulder some of the blame, has also led to intensive spending cuts and ended tours of the White House.
Meanwhile, this lazy disposition gives foreign despots and tyrants hope that the president isn’t paying close attention to their whereabouts — and it emboldens them. In the unsafe times we currently live in, the United States doesn’t need this type of image on the world stage.
You’ve had some fun, Mr. Obama. There’s still an important job to be done, and an economy in desperate need of repair. Please put away your golf clubs and get back to work.
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a columnist with The Washington Times.