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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama's laid-back style at times of crisis

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Campaign Finance,Benghazi,PennAve,Foreign Policy,Ukraine,Magazine,Gaza

President Obama's quiet response to emergencies piling up both at home and abroad should come as no surprise.

It was shaped by years of following one mantra: Stick to the schedule.

Right or wrong, the White House has calculated that it's in Obama's interest not to veer off a carefully orchestrated path.

“Republican criticism from people who criticize the president for getting out of the bed in the morning is never going to drive our decision making,” a senior administration official recently told reporters.

Obama has been content to address from behind the scenes the bloodshed in Gaza, the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine and the spike in illegal immigrant children crossing the border. A president who has repeatedly relied on photo-ops as part of his communications strategy doesn't view these problems as dire enough to warrant a different approach.

It’s a calculation the president and his senior aides have made repeatedly.

In December 2009, Obama vacationed in Hawaii, resisting calls for three days to speak publicly about the so-called underwear bomb plot to blow up a Detroit-bound plane.

In 2010, Obama was widely criticized for being slow to respond to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi terrorist strike, the president went ahead with a Las Vegas fundraiser, much to the chagrin of Republicans. He did the same after a second deadly shooting at the military installation in Fort Hood, Texas.

After surprisingly dropping plans in September 2013 for military intervention in Syria, the commander in chief golfed.

The White House claims that subsequent outrage was primarily partisan and has long been forgotten by most people.

One major exception was the president's decision to cancel a major Asia trip last fall with Republicans and Democrats at odds during the government shutdown.

Since then, however, the president has shrugged off demands to shake up his schedule in the face of major crises.

Obama ignored the request of Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry to tour the U.S.-Mexico border when he visited the Lone Star State, even with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally.

“I'm not interested in photo ops; I'm interested in solving a problem,” Obama said in a hastily arranged press conference. “And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we be doing, they're giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I've already sent to Congress.”

The president did, however, make time for beers and billiards with Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper during that trip.

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