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Posts Tagged ‘George W Bush’

USAT/Gallup: Obama’s Disapproval hits 50% as 53% Say Dems Abused Power in Passing Obamacare

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

President Barack Obama may end up regretting his pursuit of comprehensive health care reform as his disapproval contiues to rise along with the public's disapproval of the now-passed Obamacare

As noted by Centristnet back over the weekend, President Barack Obama continues to sink in the eyes of the American people in the wake of the historic passage of Obamacare, with a brand new USA Today/Gallup released today showing Obama’s overall job approval underwater as only 47% approve while an all-time high of 50% of Americans disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President:

Obama’s approval rating was 47%-50% — the first time his disapproval rating has hit 50%.

Such elevated levels of disapproval for President Obama remind some of the net-negative approval ratings of his predecessor, George W. Bush, that consumed the Bush Presidency as public concern over the Iraqi war mounted. Indeed, Obamacare may end up being Barack Obama’s Iraq should the public’s views on Obamacare not reverse themselves in the near future. Before long, many national congressional Democrats and state-level Democrats may begin to resent the OBama Administration for saddling them with such a massive, unpopular policy in the lead-up to the November 2010 elections.

For Obama, it is the public’s concern with his massive comprehensive health care plan known as Obamacare that is driving up his disapproval and causing the number of his supporters to shrink. While USA Today and Gallup, along with the remainder of the establishment media, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs and most other Democrats did push a very shaky and perhaps misleading one-day poll last week showing Obamacare improbably at 49% approval/41% disapproval, one week later this fresh, multi-day poll shows Obamacare as unpopular as ever at 50% disapproval. Several of the criticisms of the prior one-day Gallup poll are, ironically, reprinted today by USA Today in its release of the new Gallup numbers:

The poll of 1,033 adults, taken by land line and cellphone Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of +/–4 percentage points.

Half call passage of the bill “a bad thing” and 47% “a good thing.” That differs from a one-day USA TODAY poll taken March 22 — a day after the House approved the legislation — in which a 49%-40% plurality called the bill “a good thing.”

“Any one-day poll in the immediate aftermath of a major event is likely to be subject not only to sampling error but also to very short-term effects,” says political scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the time, “the news cycle was dominated by the positive side of the story, and only a little bit by the Republicans’ rebuttal to that.”

The undeniable problem for Obama and the Democrat is that a two-thirds majority of the American public simply does not believe their talking points on health care reform, making any increase in popularity unlikely and further declines probable:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation’s health care system overall.

Finally, the coordinated campaign of Democrats and the establishment media to smear opponents of Obamacare as racist, terrorist extremists by highlighting post-Obamacare incidents of alleged violence, threats and slurs has apparently fizzled as well as 53% call Democratic tactics in ramming through Obamacare an “abuse of power” while most (49%) blame such abusive Democratic tactics as the cause of any alleged violence or threats:

There was a strong reaction against the tactics Democratic leaders used to pass the bill. A 53% majority call Democratic methods “an abuse of power;” 40% say they are appropriate.

And when asked about incidents of vandalism and threats that followed the bill’s passage, Americans are more inclined to blame Democratic political tactics than critics’ harsh rhetoric. Forty-nine percent say Democratic tactics are “a major reason” for the incidents, while 46% blame criticism by conservative commentators and 43% the criticism of Republican leaders.

As the details of the still largely-unknown Obamacare package continue to dribble out, such as the fact that the ban on insurer denials of coverage to children with preexisting conditions will not take immediately as claimed by Obama but instead 2014 and the rolling announcements of first quarter losses taken by America’s blue chip companies because of Obamacare (as epitomized by AT&T’s one billion dollar loss), it is very possible that the popularity of Obamacare will decline even further, as “continued opposition will fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November’s congressional elections. The bill was enacted without a single Republican vote.”

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Obama in Afghanistan: US Military “Does Not Quit Once It Starts On Something”

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to visit with American troops and Afghan President Hamid Karzai

President Barack Obama did an excellent job of firing up the troops and praising the American mission to crush Al-Queda in Afghanistan and elsewhere during his speech today at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.   It is indeed a pleasant experience to see the President articulate a strong American will to fight and win the war on terror.  Obama did repeat four or five times that he would “never” put American troops in “harm’s way” unless it was “absolutely necessary”, which appeared to be an unnecessary slap at former President George W. Bush and the now-successful mission in Iraq, which of course Obama did not consider “absolutely necessary.”

Obama also properly pointed toward the 9/11 attacks as the motivating force behind the American mission in Afghanistan, and the President deserves credit for strongly stating these pro-American positions in front of our nation’s troops in Afghanistan and for saying “thank you” on behalf of Americans to our troops.

However, the President made a curious comment, starting at about the 11:20 mark on the this video of his speech today, about how the America “does not quit once it starts on something“:

“We face a determined enemy, but we also know this. The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don’t quit, the American armed services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere, and together with our partners, we will prevail, I am absolutely confident of that.”

Obama here sounds an awful lot like President George W. Bush in 2006, 2007 and 2008 when discussing the need to “stay the course” and win the war in Iraq. Indeed, Obama’s comment about how America “does not quit” once the country engages in a battle overseas is quite jarring when compared to candidate Obama’s campaigning throughout America for two years calling for a quick withdrawal from Iraq without a military victory there over Al-Queda and the insurgents.   Here is a portion of Obama’s January 2007 speech, which kicked off his campaign for President, advocating a military withdrawal from Iraq by March 2008, which of course did not occur:

But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake. Today we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the hearts that have been broken, and the young lives that could have been. America, it’s time to start bringing our troops home. It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war. That’s why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace.

Obama also famously stated in 2007 that the Bush surge would not work and would instead by counterproductive, which, of course, was a mistaken view that Obama pushed for years across the country campaigning for President:

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

Ironically, despite his above-referenced political attacks in 2007-8 upon President Bush for ordering the surge and his active opposition to then-President Bush’s surge plan, today Obama stated that while “politics at home may look a little messy” there is “no daylight [between Democrats and Republicans] when it comes to support of all of you” and “no daylight when it comes to supporting our troops“. While these sentiments are indeed correct, the GOP strongly supports the Afghanistani mission to eliminate the Al-Queda threat, his comments today are quite jarring when compared to the President’s own actions and statements in 2007 where he created a giant shaft of daylight between himself and President Bush regarding the American troops in the field in Iraq at the time.

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Obama Administration FOIA Exemption Claims Rise 50% Over Bush

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The Obama Administration has increased the use of so-called "exemptions" to the Freedom of Information Act about 50% over the Bush Administration

In a startling review issued today by the Associated Press regarding Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests, it was revealed that the Obama Administration substantially increased the  use of so-called “exemptions” to disclosure under FOIA, effectively undermining the many  rhetorical claims by President Barack Obama that his administration will be the “most open and transparent in history.” The AP explains the findings of its review:

WASHINGTON — The government’s use of legal exemptions to keep records secret rose during President Barack Obama’s first year in office, despite promises of increased openness, an Associated Press review found.

The review of annual Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that overall, the use of nearly every one of the open-records law’s nine exemptions to withhold information rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

Among the most frequently used exemptions: one that lets the government hold back records that detail its internal decision-making. Obama had directed agencies to stop using that exemption so frequently, but that directive appears to have been widely ignored.

Major agencies cited that exemption to refuse records at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, compared with 47,395 times during President George W. Bush’s final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies.

An increase of 23,384, a nearly 50% (49.34%) increase, in the amount of FOIA exemption claims in the first fiscal year of the Obama Administration versus the final fiscal year of the Bush Administration clearly demonstrates that President Obama has failed in his asserted quest to create an “unprecedented level of openness in Government.” Indeed, most of the establishment media coverage of the Obama Administration regarding transparency has focused on praising the Administration based on such rhetorical pronouncements by Obama.  Now, with the actual FOIA exemption claim numbers for Obama’s first year as rising by 50% over Bush’s final full year, one can only hope that such misleading reporting is corrected by the establishment media.

Amazingly, the brazen Obama managed to issue a statement today crowing about how his Administration is the most transparent in history, despite the indisputable facts regarding the massive rise in FOIA exemption usage:

As Sunshine Week begins, I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever, an effort that will strengthen our democracy and ensure the public’s trust in their government.

We are proud of these accomplishments, but our work is not done. We will continue to work toward an unmatched level of transparency, participation and accountability across the entire Administration.

Perhaps the establishment media will report upon this clearly misleading Obama statement, especially in relation to the unmentioned 50% increase in FOIA exemption claims by his Administration, in the days to come and bring some level of honesty to the media’s reporting on the transparency issue. Obama’s statement, on his first full day in office as President, claiming that broadly granted FOIA requests are the key to an open government is a timely reminder of how far removed the first year of Obama’s government has been from the rhetoric used by President Obama on the issue of open and transparent government:

The prolific use of FOIA exemptions is one measure of how far the federal government has yet to go to carry out Obama’s promise of openness. His first full day in office, Obama told agencies the Freedom of Information Act, “which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.”

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Hugo Chavez: Hillary = “blonde Condoleezza”

Friday, March 5th, 2010

President Barack Obama executes a friendly handshake with Hugo Chavez early in Obama's term

Hugo Chavez, the socialist strongman leader of Venezuela, has turned his rhetorical fire today on his favorite target: the United States of America.  Despite the hopes of many on the American left who publicly aligned with Hugo Chavez during the Bush years, the Venezuelan President has continued to virulently attack the United States during Obama’s tenure.  The latest Chavez outburst was directed at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stating “To me, she’s like Condoleezza Rice … a blond Condoleezza” as reported an hour ago by Reuters:

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo mocked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday as a “blond” version of her predecessor, and said a row with Spain over alleged links with rebel groups was over.

Visiting Latin America this week, Clinton said the Obama administration’s policies towards the region were helping blunt the criticism of the United States by leftist leaders like Chavez.

“To me, she’s like Condoleezza Rice … a blond Condoleezza,” said the Venezuelan, referring to former U.S. president George W. Bush’s secretary of state, with whom he exchanged frequent harsh words at long-distance.

Citing comments by Clinton in Brazil, Chavez said she was proving to be equally aggressive. “She comes to Brazil to provoke us, to try and divide us from our brothers.”

Regarding US-Venezuelan relations as a whole, Chavez’s warm feelings toward President Obama appear to have peaked in September 2009, when he lavishly praised Obama at the UN, favorably comparing him with the “devil” Bush:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) — Drawing on 2006 remarks in which he compared former U.S. President George Bush to the devil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking at the United Nations Thursday, said, “It doesn’t smell like sulfur anymore.”

In a rambling speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Chavez spoke highly of current President Obama, saying he is an “intelligent man” and comparing him to President John F. Kennedy.

Hugo’s prior love for Obama came to an abrupt end at the Copenhagen global warming summit in December 2009, where Chavez reversed course on Obama:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he “still” smelled sulfur after President Obama made a keynote speech at the Copenhagen climate conference Friday, accusing the American president of carrying the same satanic scent that Chavez believes followed Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

Former President Jimmy Carter buddies up with Venezeulan strongman Hugo Chavez

At Copenhagen, Chavez applied his bizarre satanic scent metaphor to Obama, as Chavez had done to Bush in 2006 and thereafter Chavez and other socialist leaders in Latin America have been turning against the once-welcomed Obama. Chavez’s attack on Hillary Clinton today serves as yet another reminder that some foreign leaders (like Chavez) dislike all of America’s leaders, and Americans would be better served by a unified political stance towards foreign powers instead of the present, highly partisan American foreign policy.

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Obama’s New Social Secretary Julianna Smoot Has Strong Ties to Norman Hsu and Was Obama 2008 Fundraising Chief; UPDATE: Single Biggest Hsu Donation Went to Smoot’s DSCC in 2005

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

New White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot (photo by Lynn Sweet) Has Close Ties to Convicted Democratic Fundraiser Norman Hsu

The latest weekend firing by the Obama Administration (Van Jones, Gregory B. Craig) is the White House Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers. Rogers left last night under a cloud of scandal for her mishandling of Obama’s first State Dinner (with India) as the famous “party crashers”, the Salahis, somehow gaining entry uninvited. This resignation of a White House Social Secretary in the wake of scandal is yet another “unprecedented” development, courtesy of the Obama Administration. Other firsts from the Rogers tenure include the first claim of executive privilege made on behalf of the White House Social Secretary, as ludicrously stated by chief Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs at the height of the party crashers scandal. Without question, the Rogers tenure was the most scandal ridden tenure of any White House Social Secretary in American history. But enough the now departed Desiree Rogers, and time to analyze the past and present of the new White House Social Secretary, Julianna Smoot.

Left-leaning Politico journalist Ben Smith laments the appointment Obama’s chief fundraiser, Julianna Smoot, as the the new White House Social Secretary:

The promotion of Julianna Smoot to White House Social Secretary is good news for wealthy donors to President Obama’s campaign, for whom Smoot — the chief campaign fundraiser — is friend and point of contact.

Smoot, who had been working in the relative obscurity of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, will now be the key gatekeeper to the kind of social functions from which donors have complained that this administration, unlike President Clinton’s, has barred them.

But the choice to unite money and access in the person of Smoot — a career political fundraiser whose efforts were downplayed by a campaign eager to focus on small donors — cuts against both President Obama’s broader message of change and against the talking points of her departing predecessor, Desiree Rogers.

Rogers told Lynn Sweet that she saw her role as turning the White House into the “people’s house,” and Michelle Obama praised her in a statement for “welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers.”

Smoot may have the same goal, but her credentials and relationships point in the opposite direction: To ensuring access and satisfaction for the ultra-wealthy elite who will, incidentally, be called on to finance President Obama’s next campaign.

A White House official says appointing a fundraising staffer Social Secretary isn’t “outside the norm” because one of President George W. Bush’s Social Secretaries, Lea Berman, had been such a staffer, though not one of Smoot’s centrality.

As Ben notes, Smoot was Obama’s chief fundraiser for the 2008 campaign and she is a longtime veteran of Democratic fundraising, working for such liberal luminaries as John Edwards, Tom Daschle, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Jay Rockefeller (all mentioned in today’s White House press release except, of course, John Edwards and Tom Daschle) and others. A 2007 article from the Washington Post outlines the critical role Smoot played in making the Obama presidential campaign a “serious contender” for the presidency, as she created the “fundraising juggernaut” that netted Obama $75 Million by September 2007, earning her the moniker from WaPo of “the $75 Million Dollar Woman”:

On a frigid day in early January, Barack Obama rode the three blocks from the Capitol to a nondescript, four-story, white-brick building where he had rented a spartan office suite.

Obama pulled out a folding chair and sat down with Julianna Smoot, the veteran Democratic fundraiser he had hired to raise the millions of dollars he would need for a presidential bid. Smoot thumbed through a thin list of potential donors that Obama had gathered during his 2004 Senate bid in Illinois and as he helped other politicians raise money for elections in 2006. She frowned.

“It wasn’t much to work with,” Smoot recalled. “But that was how we started. He asked me what he should do, and I said, ‘Start calling. And don’t forget to ask for their credit card numbers.’ “

That was the beginning of a fundraising juggernaut that, perhaps more than any other single factor, helped transform Obama into a serious contender for the presidency. By the end of September, the senator from Illinois had raised more money for his primary bid than any other candidate in either party — more than $75 million. He did it not simply by using the new possibilities of the Internet, for which he has received considerable attention, but by creating almost overnight a network of “bundlers” — a core group of motivated supporters with the Rolodexes to bring along friends and associates.

From all appearances, as described in Ben Smith’s article today and the WaPo’s 2007 piece, amongst other sources, the new White House Social Secretary Smoot is the insider’s insider, with close personal contacts with many if not most major Democratic donors and folks known as presidential “bundlers”, who bundle up maximum donations from others to the candidate and are central to modern presidential fundraising. As chief fundraiser, Smoot oversaw the creation of the Obama bundlers task force in 2007, the 100 top bundlers who went on to form the core of Obama’s fundraising effort, going from the meeting at Obama’s “spartan” office in DC to a spacious 11th floor office in downtown Chicago in less than a year:

Obama’s campaign offices are spread across the entire 11th floor of a Chicago high-rise. The finance team’s desks are scattered around a Ping-Pong table. Tabloid headlines — “Record Haul for Obama,” “Run for the Money” — are taped to the walls.

As the summer wore on, Smoot sat in the middle, tracking dozens of events around the country on her laptop. In a rolling series of phone calls with her regional fundraisers, she pushed and prodded them to hit their goals, then updated her spreadsheets so she could keep tabs on the quarter’s target.

Imprisoned former Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu (seen here with Hillary Clinton) Has Again Popped Up in National News as his Ties to Obama's New Social Secretary, Julianna Smoot, are Revealed

Smoot apparently has little problem with associating with unsavory characters, such as now-imprisoned Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu. The two were quite close, has mutual “respect” for each other as Hsu served as one of Smoot’s “most reliable donors from her tenure as finance chair for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.” Smoot aggressively pursued Hsu on behalf of the Obama campaign, as noted by the 2007 WaPo “$75 Million Dollar Woman” piece:

Smoot knew Obama was not alone in pursuing potential fundraisers. Some were getting daily calls from presidential candidates. One potential bundler contacted by Smoot was Norman Hsu, one of the most reliable donors from her tenure as finance chair for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Hsu would later become mired in scandal as a top bundler for the Clinton campaign, but he was regarded at the time as a prime target because of his reputation for producing a steady flow of campaign cash.

In an interview — before it was reported that Hsu was a fugitive trying to outrun a 15-year-old conviction for running a Ponzi scheme — he recalled his call from Smoot. She asked what he thought of Obama’s bid and whether he might consider helping. “I told her, ‘You’re asking for an unbiased opinion from someone who is very biased.’ She knew I was loyal to Senator Clinton. I told her she was asking the wrong person. We both respected each other well enough not to talk about it after that.

The NY Daily News detailed the various campaign fundraising crimes that Hsu was convicted of after his May 2008 trial, and at his sentencing (he received 24 years in jail), presiding Judge Victor Marrero declared that “Hsu’s dishonest use of political campaigns to perpetuate his fraud strikes at the very core of our democracy.” CNN reports on the sentencing:

NEW YORK (CNN) – A former Democratic fund-raiser who contributed to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was sentenced Tuesday to 292 months, or more than 24 years, in prison for fraud including campaign finance violations, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced.

“Norman Hsu betrayed the trust of his victims by stealing their money with false promises of fake returns in order to finance a luxurious lifestyle…Today’s sentence underscores our commitment to stop swindlers like Hsu in their tracks and bring them to the bar of justice,” Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

The sentencing breakdown includes 240 months in prison for wire and mail fraud charges and 52 months in prison for charges of campaign finance fraud. Judge Victor Marrero, who issued the sentence Tuesday afternoon at a Manhattan federal court, said in a statement, “Hsu’s dishonest use of political campaigns to perpetuate his fraud strikes at the very core of our democracy.”

Hsu, 57, was convicted in May on four counts of campaign fraud – one for each year from 2004 to 2007.

Earlier this year, Hsu also was found guilty on 10 counts of mail and wire fraud surrounding his investment practices.

He was indicted in 2007 after an investigation into his two investment companies.

When he was convicted in May, prosecutors said that Hsu not only swindled investors out of at least $20 million but also told some investors to make campaign contributions to the candidates he supported, and suggested that their investments could be jeopardized if they didn’t do as he asked.

Hsu has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the Ponzi scheme.

Obama’s campaign at the time of the public disclosure of Hsu’s alleged criminal wrongdoing (after initial hesitation), decided to donate the funds raised by Hsu for Obama for his first national campaign, the 2004 run for the Illinois Senate seat to charity. Democratic Underground reported in 2007 that “Obama’s team scored a significant hit by helping to place a story in several newspapers revealing that Norman Hsu, a major Clinton donor, had skipped town after having pleaded no contest to a charge of grand theft” while TalkLeft pointed out out at the time that Obama’s campaign had criticized Clinton at the time for risking her “independence” by taking shady donations:

Tuesday, Barack Obama’s spokesperson said the Senator would not give up the donations received from Norman Hsu.

… spokesman Jen Psaki said Obama, who has criticized Clinton for taking contributions that could undermine her independence, had no plans to return Hsu’s donations.

Today, he’s had a change of heart.

A spokesman for Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who is a rival of Mrs. Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination, said Mr. Obama intended to give away $7,000 that Mr. Hsu contributed to his committees.

Interestingly, the Newsday story quoting Jen Psaki used by Talkleft above is no longer an available link. Considering the return of the money raised by Hsu after the explicit Obama campaign acknowledgment to the Washington Post in September 2007 that Hsu brought a “major fundraiser” to Obama in the mid-2000’s, Hsu’s links to Obama were not insubstantial, making the choice of Smoot, who herself is closely tied to Hsu, an odd choice by Obama. Hsu received the longest prison sentence for campaign finance crimes in recent history, according to our searches, between the time Obama’s campaign returned some Hsu money in September 2007 and the appointment of Julianna Smoot today.  Indeed, as Obama has railed against the “broken” Washington lately over the stalling of his health care plan (and as that battle heats up), the appointment of this fundraiser Smoot, who made Obama into a “serious contender” by using her stellar insider connections in 2007, and considering her not so stellar insider connections folks like Hsu, must be disappointing to those who are true believers in Obama’s “hope and change” mantra as well to centrist fans of good governance.

Regardless, it is clear that, even from the left-leaning point of view, Obama’s appointment of Julianna Smoot represents “good news for wealthy donors to President Obama’s campaign” and a sign of increased influence in the White House of the “wealthy elite” who will fund Obama 2012.    Considering the spate of stories last week about the beginning of the campaign operations of Obama 2012, perhaps Smoot’s appointment is unsurprising as she’ll likely serve as a hub for the prior donor network that she established back in 2007 that jumpstarted the Obama 2008 campaign.   This move by Obama appears to contradict his 2008 campaign rhetoric about lessening the influence of big money on the White House, his recent condemnation of the Supreme Court decision on corporate donations, and other Democrats recent comments, like those of NY Dem Rep. Anthony Weiner), which bemoaning the influence of large big money in politics.   Indeed, Ben concludes his piece by noting that the Smoot appointment “cuts against both President Obama’s broader message of change” and the Rogers and Obama talking points about increased “openness” in the White House to all Americans, not just the wealthy few.  Smoot’s deep ties to Norman Hsu certainly punctuate this point of view, and Obama has been under fire from watchdog groups for failing to curb “big money” influence in DC even before the Smoot appointment.

Obama’s comment on the Smoot appointment touches these familiar claims, saying that Smoot shares the Obamas’ commitment “to creating an inclusive, dynamic and culturally vibrant White House.”   In response to Ben Smith’s article, an anonymous White House official played the familiar “Bush did it” card by defending Smoot’s appointment as not “outside the norm” because a Bush social secretary, Lea Berman, had been a low-level fundraiser. Of course, Berman was a not the central, chief fundraiser for Bush, like Smoot was in for Obama and as Smoot apparently will be for Obama 2012.  Further, the White House Social Secretary’s job has never been filled by the top fundraiser of the President’s campaign, creating another “unprecedented” development from the Obama White House. We can only hope that Obama is correct in his assessment of Smoot, and that Smoot’s appointment does not signal an increase special interest and wealthy donor influence in the Obama White House as we approach the 2010 and 2012 elections.   If Smoot couldn’t sniff out an ongoing campaign finance criminal enterprise that Hsu was engaging in as he served as one of Smoot’s “most reliable donors from her tenure as finance chair” of the DSCC for the 2006 election cycle, a reasonable question can be asked as to whether Smoot should be in charge of access of other bundlers and everyone else to the Obama White House.

UPDATE: No reporting yet on the close ties between Smoot and Hsu by the mainstream media.   While we do not have the resources to truly investigate the long term ties between Hsu and Smoot, one interesting fact turned up in our research: the single biggest donation that Hsu made during the years for which he was convicted of campaign finance crimes (2004-2007) was $26,700.00 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in June 2005, at a time when Smoot was the Finance Chair of the DSCC:

NEW YORK,NY 10016 COOL PLANETS 6/9/05 $26,700 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)

The next biggest donation to anyone by Hsu, ever, was less than half of the $26,700.00 donated by Hsu to the DSCC while Smoot was the DSCC finance chair. That explains why Hsu was described by the Washington Post in 2007 as “one of the most reliable donors from her tenure as finance chair for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee” and why Smoot tried a hard sell on Hsu to pull him away from Clinton and to Obama in early 2007. A reasonable inquiry remains to be made as to why Smoot, who apparently could not discern that one of her “most reliable donors” Hsu was in fact engaged in criminal violations of campaign finance laws, is fit to be in charge of all access to the White House. Further, aside from the Hsu issue, considering Smoot is a career fundraiser and insider’s insider, putting her in charge of White House access could be seen a case of letting the fox guard the hen house.

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