On Thursday, we chronicled President Obama's series of decisions to carry on with his public schedule -- a burger joint photo op, a partisan speech on infrastructure spending, and a pair of Manhattan fundraisers -- in the midst of two major international crises. First, Russian-backed and -armed separatists in Ukraine shot down a commercial airliner, killing nearly 300 innocent civilians, including one American. The attack marked a dramatic and lethal escalation of the war in Eastern Ukraine, in which Russia is a malignant and destructive actor. New evidence appears to indicate that Moscow has been highly interested in obtaining the flight's so-called 'black box' recording device, as Moscow-backed separatists restrict access to the crash site. The rebels say they'll turn that evidence over to the UN…at some point. Meanwhile, Israel launched a ground incursion into Gaza, a move that reportedly caught the White House by surprise. The conflict escalated over the weekend, as 13 IDF soldiers were killed by Hamas, and the Israeli military reports that heavily-armed terrorists entered its nation's territory wearing IDF uniforms -- allegedly with the intent of taking hostages. Pro-Hamas protesters are rioting and setting things on fire in Paris (we've already covered their proclivity toward anti-Semitic violence), and Turkey's "moderate" leader stated that Israel has "surpassed Hitler in barbarism" because of its anti-terrorist operations. And yet, the American president has chosen to forge ahead with run-of-the-mill, partisan activities, and is gearing up for a series of star-studded Hollywood fundraisers. The New York Times published a story over the weekend entitled, "Sticking to His Travel Plans, at Risk of Looking Bad -- Obama Maintains Schedule Despite World Crises." The problematic optics are readily apparent:
As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: a cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware, a speech about infrastructure and two splashy fund-raisers in New York City. The potential for jarring split-screen imagery was clear. Reports of charred bodies and a ground-to-air missile attack from Eastern Europe dominated television screens while photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Mr. Obama holding a toddler at the restaurant. The presidential motorcade was later filmed pulling up to Trump Place Apartments, the Riverside Avenue venue for his first fund-raiser. And yet,White House aides said no consideration was given to abandoning the president’s long-planned schedule, even during the hourlong flight from Delaware to New York, when word suddenly arrived that Israel had begun a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, providing the day’s second international challenge.
The White House's justification for its astounding public attitude nonchalance is the supposed desire to not worry the pretty little heads of the American people:
“It is rarely a good idea to return to the White House just for show, when the situation can be handled responsibly from the road,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. “Abrupt changes to his schedule can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis.”
A false sense of crisis? Sure, the US isn't under imminent threat of an alien invasion, but the current crises are no less "false" than the recent spate of administration scandals are "phony." This entire explanation is insulting.