Washington Insider Robert Gray Attacks President Obama's 'Perks'

A close friend to five GOP presidents, the prominent Washington insider Robert Keith Gray is scheduled June 28 to discuss on my MTL Washington Update radio show his new book, Presidential Perks Gone Royal.

Robert Keith Gray

Robert Keith GrayGray, at left, focuses on the unfair advantage President Obama wields in the forthcoming election because of taxpayer-funded Presidential expense accounts. One new dimension that could be extremely significant for the news media is his experience trying to obtain permission to use official photos funded by taxpayers.

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Update: In the interview, Gray amplified his concerns:

Obama has this record number (469) of very-highly paid staff, (126 paid over $100,000.). So,with the addition of his 43 "Czars," he has more than half a thousand, not confirmed by the Senate, answerable only to him.  No wonder the so-called world's busiest man can spend so much time campaigning: he has this small army of non-confirmed, reporting-only-to-him, not answerable to the people, shadow government. No taxpayer voted for any of them but while Obama campaigns they are running the country.

Gray's book was published last week and has been excerpted by the New York Post, among other places, in Air apparent; The unfair advantage of the president’s plane. Gray was appointments secretary to the President and member of Eisenhower's Cabinet. He was active in the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator Eugene McCarthy, Governor Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush. Gray served as National Communications Director of the Reagan/Bush campaign and Co-Chairman of Reagan's 1981 Presidential inaugural. A well-known lobbyist and Worldwide Chairman of Hill and Knowlton, he founded Gray and Company, the only public affairs firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He remains active in public affairs.

Among those endorsing his book are former Reagan Administration Secretary of Energy John Herrington, a former chairman of the Harcourt, Brace,Jovanovich publishing company. Herrington said:

Bob Gray has been a Washington powerhouse from Eisenhower to Obama, with longtime personal knowledge and experience from inside the White House and the Oval Office. He deftly leads the reader on a tour of the Royal Kingdom that has grown up around the American President. This is one of the most important books of this political season. A must read for all Americans.

Gray argues:

No reasonable citizen would suggest a president campaigning for re-election should be denied the comforts and perks of Air Force One, particularly because of the security it provides. But stricter rules about what constitutes a political trip — and a better way to assess costs — would help level the playing field of an incumbent against a challenger. It only seems fair — especially when the president boasts of a billion-dollar campaign war chest.

Washington Update, distributed over the My Technology Lawyer network, begins with our weekly overview the week's news. Expected topics include Supreme Court's June 28 decision on the constitutionality of President Obama's health insurance along with other major decisions as the court ends its 2011-2012 term.

 

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Related News Coverage

New York Post, Air apparent: The unfair advantage of the president’s plane, Robert Keith Gray, June 24, 2012. The seated president has such a huge advantage over his opponents that it almost seems like an exercise in futility to hold the election. With the trappings of office, the taxpayer has unwittingly provided the incumbent with a virtual lock on term two. And no advantage is greater than that of Air Force One. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s airplane, the Columbine, cost a little more than $3 million. Today’s Air Force One and its twin for backup purposes — known as “the Wannabe” — cost the taxpayers $640 million. With 26 crew members and five full-time chefs, Air Force One and “Wannabe” are the most luxurious airplanes in the world.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Jimmy CarterNew York Times, A Cruel and Unusual Record, Jimmy Carter, left, June 24, 2012. The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

Salon, CNN journalist: Don’t be nosy. A self-mocking column has real value: it expresses the predominant attitude of America's media class toward secrecy, Glenn Greenwald, June 27, 2012. LZ Granderson is a regular CNN columnist and contributor, and has written a column this week that — no joke — urges Americans to stop being so “nosy” about all the bad things the U.S. Government does. You just have to read it to believe it: "We are a nosy country...." etc., etc. This was written by a journalist and published by a media outlet. And this is plainly not satire. What prompted his paean to the virtues of minding our own business was the Congressional investigation into the DOJ’s Fast and Furious gun-running program into Mexico — one that resulted in the deaths of numerous people, including a U.S. agent — but he finds many other examples where we should just stay out of the Government’s way. I trust not much needs to be said about this. It mocks itself. The authoritarianism on display is just cringe-inducing. I suppose the only thing surprising about it is that someone who works in journalism, and a media corporation that claims to do journalism, would publish something that admits to thinking this way.

Washington Post, For Obama, a tough year at the high court, Robert Barnes, June 24, 2012. The Supreme Court this week will conclude its term by handing down much-anticipated rulings on health care and immigration, President Obama’s remaining priorities before the justices. It is a finale that cannot come quickly enough for the administration, which has had a long year at the high court. In a string of cases — as obscure as the federal government’s relationships with Indian tribes and as significant as enforcement of the Clean Water Act — the court rejected the administration’s legal arguments with lopsided votes and sometimes biting commentary.

Washington Post, High-Level Talks, then Changes to Holdings, Kimberly Kindy, Scott Higham, Davis S. Fallis and Dan Keating, June 23, 2012. Legislators traded million in stocks they could impact. In January 2008, President George W. Bush was scrambling to bolster the American economy. The subprime mortgage industry was collapsing, and the Dow Jones industrial average had lost more than 2,000 points in less than three months.  House Minority Leader John A. Boehner became the Bush administration’s point person on Capitol Hill to negotiate a $150 billion stimulus package.  Boehner is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis. The period covered by The Post analysis was a grim one for the U.S. economy, and many people rushed to reconfigure their investment portfolios. The financial moves by the members of Congress are permitted under congressional ethics rules, but some ethics experts said they should refrain from taking actions in their financial portfolios when they might know more than the public.  “They shouldn’t be making these trades when they know what they are going to do,” said Richard W. Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “And what they are going to do is then going to influence the market. If this was going on in the private sector or it was going on in the executive branch, I think the SEC would be investigating.”

Washington Post, Cruel and Usual, George F. Will, June 26, 2012. The Eighth Amendment, ratified in 1791, forbids “cruel and unusual punishments.” Originalism holds that the Constitution’s language should be construed to mean what the words meant at the time to those who wrote and ratified the Constitution. On Monday, a Supreme Court ruling about punishment vexed the four justices (John G. Roberts Jr., Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.) most sympathetic to originalism, who dissented. The majority held that sentencing laws that mandate life imprisonment without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders violate the Eighth Amendment.