WashPost Reporter Implies Obama Was 'Asleep at the Switch' on Border Crisis, Sloppy With Obamacare

NPR talk show host Diane Rehm was probably panicking a bit on Friday as the liberal reporters roundtable seemed to agree that President Obama was “asleep at the switch” on the border-children crisis.

Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty underlined last Sunday’s Washington Post story (skipped by the networks) that Team Obama had plenty of warning that the crisis was coming:

TUMULTY: But I think the real question that the president is up against here is whether he was asleep at the switch on this. Because now the White House argues, well this didn't -- for instance the situation on the border didn't become a crisis until May. That is not what charitable groups say. That is not what members of Congress say.

That is what -- there's a lot of evidence that this problem has been building for quite a while, that the administration did not do anything about it in part -- and again, the Washington Post had a big story on Sunday -- in part, a number of people said because they were afraid it would jeopardize the overall cause of immigration reform. And now, you know, they are paying for it.

And it's the same kind of critique that has been lodged against this administration for not seeing ISIS coming in Iraq. And, you know, again in a number of other areas. It's really their competence that's being called into question.


MANU RAJU, POLITICO: Yeah, and that's what's a problem with this border package right now. I mean, the president just proposed this $3.7 billion package when people in congress were calling for a supplemental funding bill as early as this spring. So this is something that's been hanging out there for a while. The administration acted late. And now we're in the thick of an election season where even moderate Democrats, people who are up in these tough red states in the Senate don't want to take a tough vote that can be used against them.

And the House Republicans have little incentive to compromise when they see their chances of winning more seats in the House and taking back the Senate too. So the president in the White House are taking a lot of criticism for not acting much more quickly on this.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN: And real quickly, they are maybe one event away from a Katrina moment. You remember President Bush was on a west coast swing for two days before the storm hit. He was approaching. He didn't change his schedule. That looked like a terrible mistake in 2020. If that happens to this White House now and there's one more thing where the president's out and about, he's on vacation, he's fundraising, it's going to look very bad for him because of everything that's come before.

Later, when it came to the possibility that Obamacare could be undone by drafting errors, Rehm tried to suggest that maybe the drafters of Obamacare were savvy, and not screwups, in writing the bill. Again, Tumulty was skeptical. It's fascinating how these liberal journalists (alongside Obama) never figured that conservative resistance would be so unyielding:

TUMULTY: Well, I was just thinking about a tweet that Michael Scherer of Time Magazine sent out as these rulings were coming down. He tweeted, just kids this is a reminder, check your work before you turn it in.

FRATES: Absolutely. And I think part of what the Obama Administration underestimated was the court challenges that would come. And they said, well things have always been challenged. Social Security was challenged, Medicare was challenged and we won.

REHM: Yeah, but there's a question here as to whether that was deliberately written ambiguously.

TUMULTY: I  don't think so. I think it was sloppy draftsmanship. And it was also they were operating on the assumption at that point that the states would set up their own exchanges. They were giving them a lot of money to do it. They were giving them a lot of guidance. The assumption was every state would want to do it their own way. Well, they just totally underestimated....

REHM: Well, but here's where Republicans are on kind of tricky ground, aren't they? They're praising the D.C. appeals court ruling but aren't they out to save money as well?

TUMULTY: You know, this has been the kind of contradiction the whole way through. I mean, all of these states that have turned down the Medicaid money to expand their Medicaid programs, it was essentially a gift from the federal government. It was certainly something their hospitals wanted to see because they treat a lot of people now for free. And it's just that the opposition to this law, particularly in conservative states, and the mistrust of the law and just the, you know, ideological opposition to the law is still so strong. And no one would've predicted, I think, that this would still be raging like this.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis