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The Barack Obama work ethic

January 11, 2014

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense. For list of subscribing radio stations, click here.]

Last Saturday during his weekly radio broadcast, while recreating in Hawaii during a seventeen-day multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded vacation, President Obama blasted Republicans for leaving Washington during the Christmas holiday. He said they left work undone.

Talk about chutzpah!

There's nothing good that anyone can say about Republican or any other kind of congresscritter, but Barack Obama questioning other Washington politicians' work ethic is like a duck calling a goose fowl. Never mind the absurdity of being in Hawaii while accusing other people of taking a vacation, the timing was peculiar for another reason: when the president finally stopped body surfing and golfing, and returned to Washington, the White House announced that he wouldn't have his budget done on time.


This is the fifth time Obama has had to submit a Presidential Budget Request to Congress and the fourth time it will be late. According to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the president is supposed to get his budget to Congress by the first Monday in February. Last year he was 65 days late. Once he was 98 days late—like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, that's a record that will never be broken. Most presidents have no problem meeting the deadline. In January of 2002, by comparison, even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even while making plans for invading Afghanistan, George Bush submitted the Presidential Budget Request on time.

It sounds harsh to call the current President of the United States lazy but he broached the subject by calling out Republicans so let's be blunt: the man has never worked at anything in his life. He couldn't even make himself work on those autobiographies that propelled him to national prominence. In 1990, based solely on his being elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Simon & Schuster gave him a $125,000 advance to write a memoir. Being a married man with no job at the time, that must have been a welcome chunk of money but he wrote nothing. He went to Bali with Michelle. That was probably fun, just like Hawaii, especially with all that money is his pocket. Simon & Schuster finally canceled the contract.

(Somehow, in spite of that failure, his agent secured him another advance of $40,000 from a different publisher and this time a book was produced—Dreams from My Father—but some experts say he didn't write it, that he hired someone else to write it. Someone who writes a lot like, and uses many of the same phrases as, his friend Bill Ayers. Probably just a coincidence.)

Obama is infamous for the number of times he plays golf, expensive family vacations, and the time and effort he puts into filling out brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament. He actually does a TV special every year where he submits his bracket to ESPN and talks about the upcoming basketball games. He gets that done on time! Last year his basketball bracket was done even though the budget was still unfinished. In other words, not only is he lazy, he's shameless.

Golf isn't a vice. Other presidents have played golf, just not so often. Bush was a golfer but he gave it up, deciding it didn't look right for the Commander-in-chief to be on a golf course while soldiers were dying in the Middle East. More soldiers have died in Afghanistan during Obama's five years in office than during Bush's eight years—about three times as many—but that hasn't stopped him. If anything, the pace of his golfing is accelerating and the number of rounds he's played is already a presidential record—probably another record that will never be broken.

Meanwhile, the stuff we hired him to do doesn't get done. Sometimes he doesn't even bother showing up. When the American consulate in Benghazi was under attack, an attack that came in two waves and lasted about seven hours, Obama was absent for all of it. They told him about the attack when it started and that's the last they heard from him. Apparently—nobody knows for sure—he ate dinner, watched some TV like he normally does, and went to bed. Not only didn't he show up, he didn't call anyone. He didn't talk to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In military terms, he was AWOL that night.

When the president is lazy, stuff that needs doing doesn't get done. Look at the Keystone Pipeline. We're pumping oil and gas out of North Dakota and Alberta almost faster than we can use it, but the pipeline to carry it to Texas refineries has been stalled, waiting for approval from the Obama administration, since 2011. While running for re-election, Obama promised he would push that approval through promptly. It's now 2014. We're still waiting. Meanwhile, there are more and more horrific train wrecks because we have to carry oil on Warren Buffet's decrepit railroad instead of in relatively safe pipelines.

One of his most important responsibilities is appointing judges. Harry Reid recently thumbed his nose at two hundred years of Senate tradition to make sure the president's judicial nominees get approved but the real problem is that Obama takes too long deciding who to nominate. That's why there are so many vacancies on the federal bench. When it comes to nominating someone to fill a district judge vacancy, Obama takes an average of 408 days. People need to be vetted, sure, but does it take more than a year?

(For comparison, Bush took an average of 285 days.)

This isn't the first time the word "lazy" has been used to describe Barack Obama. Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu once called the president lazy on national TV and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has a new book out this week highly critical of the president's leadership style. "Disengaged" is a word that's often used. Maybe that's a more polite way of saying it.

Bottom line: President Obama should never question anybody's work ethic because his own work ethic is abysmal. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides." — Ben Franklin

"If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." — Barack Obama

"Lazy people tend not to take chances, but express themselves by tearing down others' work." — Ann Rule

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

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