Julie Hirschfeld Davis's recent New York Times stories, featuring President Obama letting himself off the White House leash, have given the president free rein to mock in rambling fashion his Republican opponents in the runup to the congressional elections.
The trend continued in Wednesday's "Obama Urges Congress to Fund Infrastructure Projects," where Davis let Obama take several free shots at the GOP, with no counter-quotes from Republicans criticizing the president.
President Obama called on congressional Republicans on Tuesday to take quick action to fund infrastructure projects throughout the country, arguing that failing to do so could mean huge layoffs for Americans this year.
Stepping up criticism of his opponents on Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama poked derisive fun at Republicans as he urged them to join Democrats to pass legislation that would replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to exhaust its resources by August.
“I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at Georgetown Waterfront Park, overlooking the Potomac River and the Key Bridge, one of several bridges undergoing federally funded repairs after being deemed structurally deficient. “It’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff. No, seriously!”
The president said that if Congress did not act in the next couple of months, states would have to decide which projects to continue and which to halt, ultimately placing as many as 700,000 jobs at risk.
While Davis let the unchained Obama take on caricatures of GOP arguments, she didn't include any GOP rebuttals, and characterized the president's extra-constitutional end runs around Congress with the benign term "tactic":
Mr. Obama said his plan was “sensible” and laughingly made reference to Republican criticisms of him. “It’s not crazy. It’s not socialism. It’s not ‘the imperial presidency.’ No laws are broken,” he said. “We’re just building roads and bridges.”
And in keeping with his recent tactic of going around his Republican critics with executive action - which has prompted threats of a lawsuit by Republican congressional leaders -- the president said he would not wait for Congress to act on infrastructure investments or a host of other priorities that he said they had neglected.
Davis also filed two stories on Obama's recent barnstorming tour of Minnesota, where he (in his own words) let his inner "bear" loose. Her June 28 story from Minneapolis, "Obama Chides G.O.P. for Blocking Economic Measures," quoted the president's rambling, poor-me attacks on the Republicans in Congress.
President Obama rebuked congressional Republicans on Friday for opposing his economic initiatives, saying they should be held accountable for not doing enough for the middle class.
Mr. Obama also criticized Republicans for considering legal action over his use of executive orders, arguing that they were allowing a politically motivated vendetta to block actions that could help working people, like raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance.
“We can’t afford to wait for Congress right now, and that’s why I’m going ahead and moving ahead without them wherever I can,” Mr. Obama told about 3,500 people who gathered on the shores of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis to hear him speak. “Now Republicans are mad at me for taking these actions. They’re not doing anything, and then they’re mad that I’m doing something.”
After brief criticism from Speaker John Boehner's spokesman, Davis concluded her story with unmixed cheers for the president (nevermind Obama's actual low poll numbers).
The president, who has been searching for ways to shake up his tightly controlled routine and mix with ordinary people, sought to identify with the public’s frustration about government inaction on economic issues.
“I know it drives you nuts,” Mr. Obama said, “and it drives me nuts.”
“I’m supposed to be politic about how I say things, but I’m finding lately that I just want to say what’s on my mind,” the president said to cheers from the audience.
Her June 27 dispatch from St. Paul, "In a Diner With Obama, A Serving of Ordinary Life," injected some very mild cynicism about White House PR, but included absolutely no GOP pushback against Obama's jibes.
In the first episode in a series the White House is marketing as “Day in the Life” visits ahead of the midterm elections in November, President Obama spent part of Thursday with a mother who had written to him about her struggles.
In a working-class neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minn., the president shed his suit jacket and ducked into Matt’s Bar, a dimly lit restaurant, for lunch with Rebekah Erler, a 36-year-old accountant and a mother of two pre-school-age boys. Ms. Erler sent him a letter in March about her financial troubles.
“You’re the reason I ran for office,” Mr. Obama told his lunch companion, as he described their conversation later at the meeting that drew about 350 people in Minnehaha Park. “I don’t want you to think that I’m not fighting for you.”
For all the effort to reach ordinary Americans, Mr. Obama’s day had the feel of a campaign tour, choreographed by the White House for vibrant pictures of the president engaging with regular people, his shirt sleeves rolled up. At the meeting after the lunch, the president even wrapped up with what sounded like a new slogan. “Cynicism is popular these days, but hope’s better,” he said.
In all, Davis's three stories on Obama outside the White House contained a grand total of two paragraphs devoted to Republican criticism.