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Bogus Study Slams Obama for Lack of Meetings on Economy

A very misleading study is making the rounds right now of conservative media claiming that President Obama has spent only half the time on economic meetings that he has on golf and vacations.

The study is being cited without question on major news outlets, like Fox News, The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, and Breitbart, and you may well have seen it. But it has no relationship to reality and, since many of you have probably seen this thing, my job here is to try to give you reality.

According to the widely cited statistic in the study, Obama as of March 31 had spent 474.4 hours “in economic meetings or briefings of any kind throughout his presidency,” compared to 976 hours of golf.

Now, I’m someone who thinks Obama’s constant golf and ardent affection for vacation time is something worth noting, for a variety of reasons. And the study may be able to make a very rough tabulation about how much time he spends in these pursuits. I’d argue the authors may even have low-balled it.

But the estimate of the number of hours he has spent in economic meetings or briefings “of any kind” is false.

This is because the authors base their tabulation on Obama’s public schedule. But the publicly released schedule generally includes only a portion of Obama’s actual schedule. In fact, many of the meetings on the public schedule are of the type that are fairly useless – public sessions where either he or participants mouth talking points and everyone gets to say, for public consumption, that they met and addressed an issue.

For example: Cabinet meetings, “roundtables,” and that sort of thing. People make statements about stuff everybody already knows. It’s mainly for public consumption.

The real work at the White House gets done when, for example, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling heads to the Oval Office with a couple of aides and spends an hour or two going through specific policy options with the president. I know from years of reporting on the White House and talking to staffers that this type of thing goes on all the time. And it never makes the schedule.

I’m not telling you that Obama doesn’t spend too much time on the golf course. Or that he has fixed the economy. I am telling you that to use the public schedule to come to a conclusion about how much time he is spending on things that are not on the schedule is wrong.

42 Responses to Bogus Study Slams Obama for Lack of Meetings on Economy

      • Keith:

        Thanks for the post. While it’s good to hold Obama accountable for what he does, it’s also right to call out false attacks.

        Speaking of which, regardless of the motive, kudos to Obama for his WHCD graphic showing his library being called the “Blame Bush Library” with an arrow pointing to Bush’s real complex edifice.

      • Keith, ditto me on the praise you have received for a job well done. I do wonder about his calendar though……Why don’t they just “block” confidential meetings/time slots like we used to do in the corporate world? What they issue for you and others to publish walks right into the hands of the opposition. We all realize POTUS cannot tell us (and should not) everyone he meets with and the subjects but what we see here daily just portrays him as a lazy loafer.

        Not that he is not, mind you….:>)

  1. Keith,

    Kudos to you for doing the right thing and pointing this out. While the man’s policies drive me bat-crap crazy, we don’t need to pillory him for something that is not accurate or true.

    Keep up the good work.


    • On/off topic …

      While we have no shortage of reasons to gripe about Obama, it is well worth it to remember that he does not work in a vacuum. My point: We should focus as much on his enablers as we do with him. These enablers just don’t wear an D or R on their labels – they also wear a second initial an “m” for “me”. I know what Obama is and what he stands for, but I am less sure about some self-proclaimed Republicans.

  2. My first thought when I saw the article on Drudge is that whoever did the study might not be aware of any time spent in phone calls, ad hoc meetings, discussions, etc. It’s kind of like how you always think your boss doesn’t do any work, but you really don’t know what all of their responsibilities are.

    I do think Obama and Michelle are living large off of our dime. Lavish vacations, perks galore. He wanted the job for the perks without the responsibility. But, as much as I loathe the amateur, I don’t think the President’s job is a 9-5 job.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t even think Obama is putting in bankers hours. Could be wrong but when the first meeting on the calendar is around 10am and the whisper around town is that he knocks off at 4 and no one knows what he does after that, it certainly leaves one wondering how the dude spends his time ‘cus he doesn’t seem to be working very hard from what I can see. He doesn’t seem to be spending a lot of time working with his cabinet members, his czars, or the Congress (even members of his own party). He does, however, seem to spend a LOT of time with his clubs and golfing buddies, at fundraisers, with celebrities, and on vacation.

      The best the argument seems to get is that the dude isn’t THAT lazy. OK, maybe he’s not a COMPLETE sloth, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of his work habits.

  3. Golf Digest, 2009: “he doesn’t play often…”

    “By June 2012, Obama played his 100th round of golf as President; however this falls short of the 1,200 rounds played by President Woodrow Wilson, and the 800 rounds played by President Dwight Eisenhower” (and Bill Clinton, for example, played far more often, tallying about 400 rounds during his eight years in office).


  4. It doesn’t serve any purpose to lie or misrepresent the truth. If anything, it hurts the cause. People will remember the lies (or misrepresentations) more readily than the truth. And the MSM will most certainly make the most of this story if they can, and not in a good way.

    Years ago, I was a teacher. Yes, my work day was officially seven hours. However, I put in many, many more hours (including the summer months) that no one every saw. Yet, what we always hear about teachers is their short work day and summer break.

    I always told my children (and students), be the classy one. Don’t grovel at the level of your opponent. This is groveling.

    • As an ex-banker, I always disliked the term, “banker’s hours”. Sure, banks used to open at 10 and close at 3, but we worked from 8:30 to 5:00 in the branches, behind the scenes. Eventually all branches extended their hours and are open from 9:00 to 5:00, and in most cases, until 8:00 on Friday evenings, and until 1:00 on Saturdays. When I worked at the corporate headquarters in Toronto, I put in 12 hour days. So “banker’s hours”, like teacher’s short days, were and are a myth.

  5. This is rich. Mr. Transparency caught up in his own game of hiding his activities from the rubes. If he really was having these off the cuff meetings on the economy, no doubt his secretary would have noted them on the official presidential calendar, or the meetings would be in media reports that were also used in GAI’s analysis. I don’t see this report as bogus. It’s an accurate accounting of presidential activities released to the public by this administration.

  6. Thanks for the information Keith. These knee jerk attacks by some of the conservative blogs and news outlets will only hurt us in the long run. Thanks for watching out and taking a stand for honesty. Actually, that’s what most conservatives want – truth and honesty.

    • Thanks – that’s what I feel, conservative reporting needs to be credible. We can have some fun – conservatives are usually more fun than liberals – but it needs to be based on facts.

      • Have not seen this cited on Fox yet–will keep an eye out for it. If by meetings, you mean those big table things with him calling on people–I would not count those. Why is the economy still so bad. The Alliance for American Manufacturing is holding a meeting Wed on how to actually add one million manu jobs. Maybe the president should go.

  7. I posted the Breitbart link to this study downstairs (on a previous post) before I actually researched the “nonpartisan” group they referenced. But looking at the Economy today, I felt they were on to something.

    We only see his “official” public schedule, true, but what have been the results of all his “hard work” that’s off the record? What time does he begin his day as President? 6, 7, 8, 9 a.m.? “Officially” he seems to only be on the clock around 10 a.m til Happy Hour., unless he’s off on a trip.

    Perhaps it’s time they post his full day “working” schedule? I’d forgive the golf and vacays if I thought he was a workaholic spending 17 hours at the office? Nah. He barely showed up for his State and U.S. Senate gigs.

    • Very true Denise, even if they’re not listing his whole schedule, he ain’t the hardest working president we’ve had – Bush, who was regularly and falsely said to be lazy, worked much harder, I believe – and the results speak for themselves.

  8. Regardless of the amount of time BHO spends in meetings as opposed to golf, it seems apparent he gets consistently poor results from each. At the very best, the time he spends in golf is less time he spends on the economy.

  9. Thanks for clearing it up. There is so much to attack the president for that false accusations are unwarranted and the tactic should be left for use by those on the left.

  10. What you’re telling us is that the “public” schedule we see is a work of fiction. Well, until they come up with an accurate accounting of his time they can just deal with the scant information they’ve provided.

  11. If an impartial analysis is based on the given facts, then the truth lies in the facts and not in what is imagined to be true. Because the Obama administration issued the facts, then the analysis result = truth.

    Conservatives of both political parties have been slammed with outright lies with no basis in fact. We have been described as hateful of others, racists, killers of children, and as some who would push the elderly off a cliff to save a dime by this administration. We’ll never see any of the MSM come to our defense, to ask the Obama clan for particulars of all these charges.
    The progressive Dems are free to throw around statistics that are never vetted to advance their agenda, they find no restraint from accusing law-abiding Americans of being terrorists or anti-government agents..

    If the report of the time MrObama spends on anything is inaccurate, then let his people come to his defense with proof that shows otherwise.

  12. I think a comparison of past presidents would put it more in perspective. Even then it is possible that one president could have a lot more off the schedule meetings related to the economy as you said so it would be impossible to know for sure.

  13. I think the best way to judge Obama’s workload is to check Pete Souza’s output. Surely there must be a photo trail of the long hours Obama spends with Gene Sperling, et al.

    Obama has been called an ‘economic illiterate’ with no frame of reference as to how the economy works. What did his show-horse ‘jobs council’ produce? More jobs? How about the fact that the national debt has increased 40% since the beginning of his reign of terror? Sounds more like he is doing a heck of a job destroying the economy regardless of how many hours he puts in.

    Bob Woodward’s book, The Price of Power, paints a devastating critique of Obama’s failed leadership re the handling of the debt crisis. It’s hard to imagine that he has ever immersed himself in anything other than golf, partying, and the politics of campaigning.

    Obama P/E ratio gaffe: Misstatment or economic illiteracy? Never reported by MSM?

    • There was a youtube video way back before the 2008 election showing Obama attempting to speak off the cuff about the stock market. He fumbled with it, then laughed about how he didn’t know. Something about small cap and then “medium cap” or something like that. I can’t seem to find the video (imagine that).

  14. Obama is a punk and will always be a punk. Bet he was bullied in school. Some people in this country are complete and total idiots.
    I like Rush am ashamed as a United States citizen to be under control of the Punk who resides at the “Peoples House”.
    Mr. Obama crossed my “red line” about 4 years ago.
    AND Eric “the Snake” Holder needs to be put back in the reptile exhibit at the Chicago Zoo.

  15. I would tend to agree with you but for the fact that too many Congressmen have complained that Obama never picks up the phone to talk to them. How is he getting the people’s business done if he’s not meeting with the people’s representatives?

    Can we go through his visitor logs and compare how much time he spends with union reps versus congressmen?

  16. The crisis seems to be getting worse all over, and our politicians (Obama also) clearly lack the competence to bring about any sort of recovery. Perhaps politicians and administrators should turn to professional economic crisis specialists, as already happens in the US. For example, the Orlando Bisegna Index, specialists in the economic crisis, apart from measuring the intensity of the econonomic crisis in many countries, have helped various counties with debt problems, business failures and unemployment, thus improving the economic condition of many families.