When the members of Barack Obama’s administration say that concerns for the president’s safety at the historic march in Paris on Sunday prevented him from traveling to France, and they say this often, they are really only guessing. More accurately, they should say that they believe security concerns would have prevented Obama from traveling to Paris if they had bothered to investigate the prospect of providing him with a security detail for that trip. According to the Secret Service, the agency was never even asked to consider the precautions necessary to get the President of the United States to France.
“The White House cited security concerns and the fact that the rally came together quickly, in about 36 hours. Earnest said presidential or vice presidential security for events such as the march are ‘onerous’ and have a ‘significant impact’ on those who attend,” The Washington Post reported. “A Secret Service official said the agency was not asked or notified about a potential trip to Paris.”
“Officials acknowledge that the Secret Service could have pulled it off,” reported CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta on Monday. “The agency was not asked or notified about a trip. It would have been a challenge, but he did not say it was impossible.”
It increasingly seems as though the backlash against the president’s decision to skip the march is taking on a life of its own. Presidents often miss events, and many of them are historic in nature. So why is this one capturing the imaginations of the public and the press so completely? They say that the most damaging stumble for a politician is that which accentuates an already widely acknowledged character flaw. It could be that Obama’s aloof, professorial nature has been emphasized to the point of near caricature by his decision to pass on an appearance in France.