Articles

The Fundraiser In Chief

July 10, 2014

As de facto party leader, presidents raise political money. Since he makes time for it no matter how pressing world or national affairs are, President Obama apparently likes raising campaign funds. He has attended 34 fundraisers so far this year. What is unusual is how much time he devotes to it, his timing and his lack of judgment.

For example, the afternoon following the Sept. 11, 2012, murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya, Mr. Obama left the White House for a fundraiser in Las Vegas and a campaign appearance in Colorado.

As Russian troops stormed into the Crimea on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, Mr. Obama clinked his glass at a DNC fundraiser, declaring "this is now officially happy hour with the Democratic Party. I can do that. It is an executive action. I have the authority." Vladimir Putin must have been amused.

When Islamic terrorists captured Mosul, Iraq's second most populous city, and menaced Baghdad in mid-June, Mr. Obama did not hunker down in the Situation Room. He headed to a Laguna Beach, Calif., fundraiser where 25 people wrote checks of up to $32,400.

After raising money at an event for Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado Tuesday—Mr. Udall bailed at the last minute—Mr. Obama is now completing a two-day fundraising swing through Texas. On Wednesday he attended a barbecue at the palatial Dallas home of plaintiff attorney Marc Stanley. Tickets cost as much as $32,400, with the money going to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Then the president flew to Austin for a fundraiser at the home of director Robert Rodriquez, whose family-unfriendly films include "Machete," "Sin City" and "Planet Terror."

On Thursday, abortion activist Aimee Boone Cunningham will host Mr. Obama at an Austin roundtable with checks made payable to the Democratic National Committee for up to $32,400.

Fundraisers are a priority for this president—he has attended 393 fundraisers since taking office, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller, compared with George W. Bush's 216 at the same point in his presidency. What is not a priority is visiting South Texas to see the tragedy unfolding from a wave of illegal immigrants, many unaccompanied children.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says he doesn't need to visit the border "simply because the president is very aware of the situation." Mr. Obama is mistaken if he thinks he would not benefit from meeting with state and local officials and community leaders there.

He is clueless if he doesn't realize his 2012 order halting the deportation of some young illegal immigrants sent a powerful message throughout Central America: If you got your children to the U.S., they are likely to stay.

Mr. Obama also seems oblivious to the value of being seen on the Rio Grande, warning Central American parents not to send their children north because if they survive the dangerous, expensive journey, they will only be caught and returned home.

To deflect criticism over the crisis, Team Obama is falling back on an old tactic. They are blaming President George W. Bush. His sin? The bill he signed in December 2008 that gives additional protections to minors who might be victims of sex trafficking to avoid being sent back to a pimp or madam.

That won't fly. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, less than 4,000 unaccompanied Central American minors were apprehended each year over the past decade. Then Mr. Obama halted deportations of some young illegals in June 2012 and the number of apprehensions jumped to 10,146 in that fiscal year. It then doubled to 20,805 last fiscal year and reached 39,133 by mid-June of this year, with 3½ months left in the fiscal year.

If Mr. Bush started all this, why did it take until 3½ years after he left office for the number of unaccompanied Central American minors crossing our borders to surge? The rush of child illegals began when Mr. Obama suspended enforcement of existing immigration laws shortly before the 2012 election. That helped him win Hispanic voters, but the result of ignoring the nation's laws can be seen across the entire southwest border.

To his credit, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a stink about Mr. Obama's failure to treat the crisis seriously and insisted on "a substantive meeting" with the president. The administration responded by folding Mr. Perry into a meeting with faith leaders and local elected officials in Dallas on Wednesday, 500 miles north of the Rio Grande Valley.

The July 2 Quinnipiac Poll found 54% think the Obama administration has not been competent at running the government. The flood of child illegals will deepen the sense of the president as distant, callous and unengaged. His party will suffer for that in the midterm election, no matter how many fundraisers Mr. Obama attends.

A version of this article appeared July 10, 2014, in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline The Fundraiser In Chief and online at WSJ.com.

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