The Republican National Committee is calling for an investigation of Barack Obama’s travel, but in 2004 George W. Bush misused Air Force One to attend RNC fundraisers.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called for an investigation into President Obama’s travel,
Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as “official events,” thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his reelection efforts. Given the recent excesses, waste, and abuse uncovered in the General Services Administration, the GAO should be particularly sensitive to misuse of taxpayer dollars. The most recent example of such misuse came yesterday in North Carolina and Colorado. President Obama traveled to the two states at taxpayer expense to deliver speeches to cheering crowds of college students, events widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies.
Wow, that certainly sounds bad, until you realize that so called campaign events that the RNC is accusing the president of holding were to discuss the policy issue of student loan interest rates. The president was holding these events in order get the Congress to act before the interest rate on student loans doubles. What president Obama was doing was using the presidential bully pulpit to encourage legislative action. That is not the same as using Air Force One to attend campaign events like….
George W. Bush did in 2004. Back in 2004, CNN reported that, “On June 16, 2004, CNN reported, “President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers. While John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip ‘official’ travel rather than ‘political.’ Even when the White House deems a trip as political, the cost to Bush’s campaign is minimal. In such instances, the campaign must only pay the government the equivalent of a comparable first-class fare for passengers. It’s a minuscule sum, compared to the $56,800-per-hour it costs to run Air Force One.”
Also in 2004, the LA Times reported,
Sitting on a stool, microphone in hand, President Bush shared a stage Thursday with a doctor, a patient and the mother of a sick child as he hosted a discussion on medical technology. The images were tailor-made for TV: a concerned leader engaged on an important matter of public policy. But Bush soon left the cameras for a private residence nearby and the event that brought him to town in the first place — a fundraiser that netted $1.7 million for the Republican National Committee.
Such is life these days for Bush, who stopped raising money for his own campaign last month but now is aggressively helping his party beef up its bank account to orchestrate what GOP officials say will be the most sophisticated and expansive get-out-the-vote effort in history this November.
In the last month, Bush often has attended GOP events and conducted taxpayer-financed business while on the same trips outside of Washington. He delivered the commencement address at Louisiana State University before raising $2 million near New Orleans, spoke to graduates of a Wisconsin college shortly after taking in $2.2 million in nearby St. Louis, and hailed his commitment to the environment near a Florida bay before pulling in more than $4 million for the Republican National Committee in Naples and Miami.
President Bush may have been the worst, but he wasn’t the first. Back in 1984, Ronald Reagan used Air Force One to attend campaign events.
Let me see if I have this straight. It was perfectly fine when President George W. Bush used Air Force One in a completely political manner to raise money for the Republican National Committee. It was perfectly above board for Ronald Reagan to campaign for reelection on the taxpayer dime back in 1984. But when President Obama holds policy events about student loan interest rates, the RNC demands an investigation?
As they say on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. What the RNC is really up to is that they are trying to sell the not so subtle racial stereotype that the nation’s first African American president is abusing Air Force One, because he is not entitled and not worthy of the presidency.
It was fine for a white Republican president to misuse Air Force One to raise money for the RNC, but when Obama holds official events in order to turn up the heat on Congress it is a crime against the taxpayers.
It would be wise for Mr. Priebus and the RNC to remind themselves of the old adage about people who live in glass houses and throw stones, because the allegations that they made against this president just shattered a few of their own windows.