The Pariah President
Wednesday, October 22, 2008; 11:27 AM
President Bush isn't headlining any big political rallies this time around. Far from it.
No, with two whole weeks still to go to before the election, Bush attended his final political event of the 2008 campaign last night - a fundraiser for fat-cat GOP donors, as usual hidden from public view. His primary job from this point forward, as far as Republican candidates from John McCain on down are concerned, is to stay out of the way.
Never before in modern history has a standing president been such a pariah that candidates of his own party wanted nothing to do with him.
Mark Knoller reports for CBS News: "Not once this year has President Bush appeared in public at a campaign rally for the Republican Party or any of its candidates. . . .
"Tuesday's event brings to 46 the number of GOP fund-raising events Mr. Bush has done this year, but nearly all have been of the stealth variety. All but four of them have been closed to press coverage.
"It's a deliberate effort on the part of the White House, the Republican National Committee and the McCain Campaign to help Mr. Bush maintain a low political profile.
"Even the four fund-raising events he did for McCain were off-limits to reporters. . . .
"Only once since McCain visited the White House on March 5 to receive the president's formal endorsement, have the two of them been seen together in a political context."
As Knoller concludes: "It makes it laughable what McCain said that day seven months ago in the Rose Garden with Mr. Bush: 'I intend to have as much possible campaigning events together, as it is in keeping with the President's heavy schedule. And I look forward to that opportunity.'"
Sheryl Gay Stolberg blogs for the New York Times: "For a president who relishes the campaign stump -- and has always been quite good at rallying crowds -- Mr. Bush's surprising early departure from the campaign trail is the culmination of a season of political invisibility. . . .
"'The president obviously has very important responsibilities to tend to and so he is putting those ahead of campaign activities,' said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman.
"But the political reality for Mr. Bush is clear: Republicans simply do not want to be seen with him.