Same Bad Policy, Same Old Excuse

John Boehner

According to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, as of July 2014, President Obama had done more than 800 interviews. At the same point in their presidencies, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had done less than 300 and Ronald Reagan had done less than 400.

It’s fair to say, then, that Obama has probably defended his policies more than any other president in American history. And in the run-up to November, he reiterated that his policies were on the ballot, even if his name was not. But on Sunday, President Obama told CBS News:

“When you start governing, there is a tendency sometimes for me to start thinking, ‘As long as I get the policy right, then that’s what should matter.’ … And I think that one thing that I do need to constantly remind myself and my team of is it’s not enough just to build a better mousetrap. … We’ve got to sell it.”

President Obama has deployed this excuse at least five times before:

  • “[W]e probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. … And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.” (The New York Times, 10/12/10)
  • “[O]ur attitude was we just had to get the policy right, and we did not always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.” (CNN, 10/21/10)
  • “[O]ver the first two years I was so focused on policy and getting the policy right, that sometimes I forgot part of my job is explaining to the American people why we’re doing this policy and where we’re going. … And so I think that was something that I could have done better.” (ABC News, 7/22/11)
  • “The area in my presidency where I think my management and understanding of the presidency evolved most, and where I think we made the most mistakes, was less on the policy front and more on the communications front. … I think I was so consumed with the problems in front of me that I didn’t step back and remember, what is the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do? And what the president can do, that nobody else can do, is tell a story to the American people about where we are and where we are going.” (Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind, 9/20/11)
  • “The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people …. It’s funny – when I ran everybody said, ‘well, he can give a good speech, but can he actually manage the job?’ And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism. … I need to do a better job of that in my second term.” (CBS News, 7/12/12)

For someone who claims to be overly focused on getting the policy right, the president gets an awful lot wrong. From the economy to the mismanagement at the Veterans Administration (VA), to underestimating everything from the terrorist threat to the problems with ObamaCare, it’s been said that “overseas and at home, the administration seems besieged and befuddled” and “looks like they’re struggling to run the government.”

President Obama once said that “elections have consequences,” but instead of acknowledging that the American people want a course correction, he’s vowed to change nothing. He’s doubling down on his plans to grant amnesty by executive action, impose federal regulation on the Internet, and eliminate affordable, reliable energy. His chief of staff says Americans are only “going to see Washington working better if this president has his way.”

But that’s not what Americans want, and it’s not how our system of government works. “Finding common ground is going to be hard work,” Speaker Boehner said last week, “but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us.”

Republicans are committed to getting our economy moving again and advancing real solutions. We hope President Obama will change his mind and join us.

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