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President Barack Obama likes his schedule to be flexible enough for him to get in at least one weekend round of golf if he so chooses, but some senior White House advisers think that he should be focusing more on doing the work of a sitting president.
“It doesn’t look good that he goes on vacation in North Carolina two days after the [British Petroleum] oil spill takes place,” says a former Obama campaign adviser. “So all weekend, you have stories about the Obamas in North Carolina playing golf and having fun, and meanwhile, no one knows what the federal government is doing to help with the oil spill.”
According to White House sources, Obama considered golf outings at least twice more in the wake of the spill and was advised not to “overplay” the game.
“At least with basketball, he can do it on the White House grounds,” says a current Democrat political consultant, who advises the White House on media matters. “Golf just tends to make you look detached, and now a lot of people connect it simply to Tiger Woods, and the president doesn’t need to be tied to that at all.”
Some American conservatives were not surprised that British Conservative Party leader David Cameron hired Obama campaign advisers, led by former White House communications adviser Anita Dunn.
“Ever since Cameron began gaining traction politically by moving the Conservative Party to the left on issues like global warming, he’s seen himself as more of a centrist player,” says a member of Cameron’s shadow cabinet. “The question is whether he will feel comfortable moving to the right should he gain the prime minister’s job.” (At press time Cameron was leading in the polls nationally over Liberal Democrat Nicholas Clegg and Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.)
Cameron purportedly got the idea to “repackage” the Conservative Party as a more appealing party to women and young people from Newt Gingrich and his ideas to “repackage” the Republican Party to allow for policy discussions around such issues global warming and green politics.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) has been walking the point on federal legislation that would impose new requirements on lobbyists, but it’s the Obama White House that is really driving the issue. The Transparency in Government Act would require members of Congress to detail personal financial data more clearly, but also require lobbying filings to be more timely. More important, it would change the definition of what a “lobbyist” is and set new limits on who lobbyists meet with and when.
“It’s really all about locking the current system in place in a way that gives Democrats the advantage over Republicans,” says one House Republican leadership staffer. “Just as things are beginning to pivot away from Democrats, all of a sudden, they get religion on transparency in government, something that this Democratic leadership fought tooth and nail against for months. This has been the least transparent Congress and the least transparent administration in history.”
Obama political advisers don’t doubt that they can rival if not exceed Obama’s 2008 fundraising for his re-election campaign in 2012, but they want to limit Republicans’ ability to match them, particularly with the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United which changed the way corporations and others could support political activity in the run-ups to elections.
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