To a certain point, everything a president does is political. If he goes out and gets a Big Mac, it has political meaning.
And the president’s regular office is the Oval Office, so even things he does there are political. But the room has a semi-sacred status, a place where so many important things occur that Americans view it as a one of the holy chambers of their civic church.
Obama shouldn’t do anything he wants in there. He wouldn’t, for example, give a campaign speech from the desk. But he could give a policy speech with large political overtones. It’s subtle where you draw the line.
But the president’s activities today fall outside the line.
Must Obama really be making get-out-the-vote phone calls to radio stations around the country today from the Oval Office? Couldn’t he just truck it down to the DNC for a few minutes? Is this a dignified use of the great and historic room where he works?
Ronald Reagan famously wouldn’t take his jacket off in the room. Neither, I was told by a aide, would George W. Bush.
Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office.
President Obama has not, as far as anyone knows, gotten quite as casual as Mr. Clinton in the office.
But here’s how he treats the place. He could do a little better and not really sustain a painful injury in the process.