Voting “Present”

What do you think of the Obama Administration’s failure to have the president, vice president, or an cabinet member take part in the large solidarity rally that took place in Paris yesterday? In my view it was pretty typical of this administration: terrible atmospherics but materially insignificant.

As usual the president’s friends will fall over themselves defending him while his enemies make idiots of themselves attacking.

What do you think?

22 comments… add one
  • ...

    I’m sure it’s happening, but I’m not seeing anyone defending Obama on this front. Even CNN is upset about this.

  • ...

    As for me, I think it’s typically arrogant & thoughtless.

  • ...

    I have a few “quibbles” of my own about the reaction to last week’s attacks.

    First, this attack was nothing at all like 9-11-2001. The scale of the 9-11 attacks dwarf last week’s attacks in every way.

    Second, these weren’t the worst attacks on the West since 9-11-2001. The attack on Madrid on 3-11-2004 killed 191 and wounded over 2000, making it more than an order of magnitude worse on fatalities alone.

    Third, the France that was our early ally was the France of the Bourbon kings, not the various republics, communes, directorates & empires that followed.

    Last week’s attacks were most comparable to the beltway sniper attacks, now largely forgotten, or a bad weekend in Chicago.

  • Modulo Myself

    Who cares if Obama did not send anybody to march with representatives of countries like Russia or Jordan?

    My main question is what the hell the point of all of this electronic surveillance is if two ‘lapsed’ Jihadists aren’t picked up on making hundreds of calls to each other. Why does the NSA have to have a record of everything I do if it can’t monitor 5000 or so known French extremists? It’s almost like the entire infrastructure devoted to fighting terrorism has other aims. But I’m sure CNN and Jake Tapper, both of whom love expression so much, will come around to asking questions like these.

  • Guarneri

    Any competent leader understands that their words and actions are under intense scrutiny by the general population, be that leader a coach or captain on a sports team, a business unit head or CEO or Board member, or a church, family or government leader. They are material by definition, and have an attendant appropriate tone? Thats why heads of state don’t bow to other heads of state, return gifted busts of iconic political figures, hypothesize that they are the father of some non-descript but temporarily relevant or controversial teenager in current events or play golf immediately after a grisly death they just commented on.

    Notice I said competent leader. If that is idiotic I’m living in an alternative universe and observing 30 years of genuine leadership has been for naught.

  • jan

    This latest administrative behavior is nothing new. It simply extends a pattern that has been obvious with this president throughout his public career. In the Illinois State Senate, how many times did he vote “present” to escape putting himself on the record for a vote — 30 some times?

    As president he has shown a callowness in courage or depth when interacting with the military or anything dealing with Islamic terror. When incidents happen over here, terrorist acts simply evolve into “workplace violence.” In Benghazi they become hazy unexpected attacks blamed on a video. In Iraq Obama first takes the glory for ending the war in Iraq, and then slips into denial when Iraq is taken over by a “JV” team of terrorists called ISIS. He bemoans beheadings as he heads off for the golf course, and calls the world “safer” because of his policies, as others claim terror is only metastasizing across the Middle East and Africa. During general election cycles, though, Obama shouts out that ” Al Qaeda is on the run, Osama is dead” etc., as he seems to ignore all the signs and symptoms depicting the opposite, in order to assure himself of another term in office.

    Consequently, this latest “optic oops,” in not sending someone of substance to represent the U.S., during what has been cited as the biggest rally in France’s history, is just another example of his unexplainable dismissive attitude towards vital problems and/or events occurring in the world today. As a bookend to his arrogance, Obama is now calling for some kind of global summit in February — something scheduled for last September, but then oddly forgotten about until now, when there appears to be some mending to be done to repair the frayed relationships between the U.S and some of it’s “closest” allies.

  • ...

    Yes, Modulo, it would have all been about marching with leaders from Russia & Jordan, and not with the leaders from the UK, Germany & France, among others. Not to mention the symbolic display in support of liberty. It would have been just about making nice with Russia & Jordan. @@

    What gets me is that I missed a lot of football over the weekend attending to the relatively trivial task* of cleaning out my garage attic, but the President didn’t want to be bothered with his actual job, a job which he spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get. Smh, as the kids say.

    * Trivial in the grand scheme of things, but I was thrilled to get it done. Still a lot to do, but it gets much easier from this point forward. And of course, this is merely prelude to cleaning out the garage! The house is finally starting to feel like _ours_ (my wife’s and mine), and not like Mom’s.

  • Mercer

    I am glad he didn’t go. What concrete actions would result from the trip? Nothing. It is purely symbolic. We have a State Department for for ceremonies like that.

    If people think he should have gone to Paris how about Nigeria where many more people have died? Or the train bombings in London and Madrid. His job is to run the US government not to be a grief counselor for the world.

  • ...

    He didn’t need to go, but someone higher ranking than the US Ambassador to France should have gone. Even the White House has admitted as much. 40 heads of state & other high ranking officials DID attend.

    As for why here & not Nigeria? Because France & Europe are important allies & trading partners, Nigeria not so much.

  • ...

    And given that three, I bbelieve it was, high ranking officials from the Administration were sent to the funeral of Michael Brown, I don’t think the Administration has much of a case for skipping this event.

  • ...

    So as it stands, the White House has shown more personal support for Thug Life than Freedoom of Expression. Good job, Barry!

  • PD Shaw

    I pretty much share Dave’s views here completely: “terrible atmospherics but materially insignificant.”

    Ellipses: I usually think of France as the United States’ oldest ally and oldest enemy. After the U.S. was formed, France was the first country we went to (undeclared) war with.

  • PD Shaw

    I think a criticism could be directed towards Obama would be along the lines of: Obama’s foreign policy preferences are Wilsonian; meeting and greeting with foreign leaders on occasions where universal rights are asserted as norms would be one of the few means to encourage these foreign policy preferences without invading a third-world country and experimenting with nation-building. Another might be to go to Cairo and address a speech to the Muslim world, but that would be too dangerous. 😉

  • ...

    PD, I know the current government hadn’t been put in place yet, but the UK has to take precedence as our oldest enemy!

  • If I thought this had more practical significance, my criticism would be along somewhat different lines. Participating in rituals and symbolic expressions is part of building relationships, something that doesn’t happen overnight. They’re cultivated over time and take effort. You don’t necessarily go to weddings or funerals out of joy or sorrow but to provide support and cultivate your social relationships.

  • PD Shaw

    Elipses, I do make the technical distinction about the U.S. not really existing until independence had been won. YMMV.

    Dave, your theoretical critique is better than mine.

  • CStanley

    The attack was not anywhere near the scale of 9/11 but symbolically it was important as an attack on free speech (as were previous events like the slaying of Theo Van Gogh.) As such, the rally IMO was a good idea and if we’re going to have any symbolism at all surrounding our heads of states this is the appropriate use of it. Since this administration, as others here have noted, makes use of symbolic support domestically when it suits them, the decision to skip this is significant and noticeable. I wonder how this was viewed by the other heads of state- hard to imagine they took it as anything other than a snub. Biden or Kerry couldn’t have gone, at least?

    That said, I find a lot of the criticism too shrill and I notice that no one even bothers with the idea that politics stops at the waters’ edge anymore.

  • Guarneri

    Switching gears, does anyone feel they have an insight as to why this administration is almost completely incapable of ascribing Islamic fundamentalism to terrorist acts. They go through such contortions to not say “Islam” that it’s makes you wince.

  • If you’re committed to the idea that anybody who does something that’s really vile is crazy, you can’t make that connection because you’d be saying that Islamic fundamentalism is crazy.

    I’m not an area expert here but I think that part of the problem is that Islam is inherently fundamentalist if by “fundamentalist” you mean sola scriptura and sola fide.

  • ...

    You don’t necessarily go to weddings or funerals out of joy or sorrow but to provide support and cultivate your social relationships.

    And that’s the point. This isn’t a major screw-up, but it is indicative of how they operate. But saying it wasn’t a screw-up, which even the Administration has been forced to admit, is silly.

  • ...

    Elipses, I do make the technical distinction about the U.S. not really existing until independence had been won.

    Well, you’re a lawyer!

    YMMV.

    Indeed it does, lol, not that it means a thing!

  • steve

    “Thats why heads of state don’t bow to other heads of state, return gifted busts of iconic political figures, hypothesize that they are the father of some non-descript but temporarily relevant or controversial teenager in current events or play golf immediately after a grisly death they just commented on.”

    You forgot the birth certificate. If you are going to be a wingnut at least do it right.

    Steve

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