A Hard Look at the President

Arthur S. Brisbane
Opinion
The New York Times
4/21/2012

FOUR weeks ago, I criticized The New York Times for overplaying an article on an investment made by Ann Romney’s blind trust. The article was but one installment of the intense campaign coverage scrutinizing Mitt Romney as he bids for the Republican presidential nomination.

During this period, we haven’t heard as much from The Times about President Obama’s re-election effort.

There is precedent for the disparity. The Republican primary fight is a prelude to the general election season. Eight years ago, The Times offered comparably scant campaign coverage of the incumbent, George W. Bush, even as it blanketed readers with articles about Senator John Kerry and others competing for the Democratic nomination.

Now, though, the general election season is on, and The Times needs to offer an aggressive look at the president’s record, policy promises and campaign operation to answer the question: Who is the real Barack Obama?…

The article continues at The New York Times.

Also at The NYT:

White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In

…Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits.

More broadly, the review showed that those who donated the most to Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times…

Shift on Executive Power Lets Obama Bypass Rivals

…increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more.

Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers. When he announced a cut in refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages last month, for example, he said: “If Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.”

Aides say many more such moves are coming. Not just a short-term shift in governing style and a re-election strategy, Mr. Obama’s increasingly assertive use of executive action could foreshadow pitched battles over the separation of powers in his second term, should he win and Republicans consolidate their power in Congress…

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