“It’s no different than what happened under eight years of George Bush and eight years of Bill Clinton.” — Obama White House official
If you were a Democratic president who campaigned on changing the way Washington works and holding your administration to a higher standard, would you tape campaign fundraising videos in the White House Map Room of all places, even if it is perhaps technically legal?
Of course you wouldn’t. But then why is President Obama doing exactly that?
This is not the first time a Democratic president has gotten into hot water for using the White House Map Room for political purposes. During his 1996 re-election campaign, President Bill Clinton held dozens of infamous “White House coffees” in the White House Map Room with big donors to his campaign and the Democratic Party. The central questions surrounding these coffees were whether or not President Clinton was essentially holding fundraising events inside the White House and whether Clinton-Gore officials and the DNC were using the White House as a political tool to help the campaign.
The disclosure of these “White House coffees” led to what became wide-ranging, overlapping Justice Department and congressional investigations that lasted for years in which dozens were charged with various campaign finance crimes. While no one was ultimately prosecuted for the shenanigans directly related to the coffees, it took years of bad press, millions in legal fees, hundreds of subpoenas and Fifth Amendment assertions, and endless congressional hearings and depositions to figure out.
Mr. Obama’s lawyers and advisers must have reminded him about the scandal that emanated from the White House Map Room following the 1996 elections (the same year he was first elected to the Illinois State Senate). It’s curious that Mr. Obama, while weighing his 2008 campaign promises along with potential political and legal fallout, would give the go-ahead to do this, regardless.
I ask again. Why in the world would President Obama authorize the use of the White House Map Room for political purposes?
One explanation is that the president may have concluded that, at the end of the day, his friends in the mainstream media would never hold him accountable and that he could get away with it because, hey, after all, he’s Barack Obama.
Another conclusion he may have come to, as hinted by the White House staff quote above, is that this is business as usual, every president is allowed to use the White House for his political advantage, so why not him? Oh, how the hopeful have fallen. Thirty months into his presidency and Barack “Big Change” Obama is all about his re-election and raising money the most convenient way possible, consequences be damned. It’s business as usual. In fact, it’s downright Clintonian! And perhaps most damaging, it’s a promise broken.
It is yet to be seen how this hardly new allegation plays out. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is asking questions and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has called for a Department of Justice investigation, but don’t hold your breath. The media is reporting on these actions but, as far as I can tell, isn’t digging. Once again, it looks like we’ll have to count on the court of public opinion to rule the day by rejecting “Business as Usual” Barack.