Right Wing Outrage Over Obama Missing A Photo-Op In Paris

The latest lunacy from conservatives like Ted Cruz  is to make a huge fuss about Obama not attending the Paris memorial march, while ignoring the substantive assistance he has been providing to fight terrorism.

Considering the security measures utilized whenever the president leaves the White House, it was not practical for Obama to have attended with such short notice. Even if time permitted, his presence would have been disruptive for such an event.

The French certainly are not offended:

 French President François Hollande’s office also defended Obama. A senior official told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the U.S. president has been “very present” since the attacks, noting that he was one of the first leaders to call Hollande last Wednesday.

The official also pointed to Obama’s visit to the French Embassy in Washington last week. “For us It was an emotional moment of solidarity,” the official said.

They actually would have preferred that Obama and Biden not attend due to the security issues, already having to contend with Benjamin Netanyahu attending when asked not to.

Obama essentially missed a photo op–not a true case of world leaders leading a March, as pictures from the march have demonstrated:

Many on the right repeated their automatic opposition to anything Obama does. We know that if he had gone, the same conservatives would have been the first to attack Obama for grabbing the limelight, the cost of the trip, and disrupting the march with his security measures. We also know that if it had been a Republican president who did not attend they would have had no complaints.

Ron Fournier, not a common defender of Obama, had several points on this faux controversy:

His critics seem to forget a few things.

1. The United States has some 66,000 military personnel deployed in Europe. More than 6,800 U.S. service members have died in post-9/11 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of billions of dollars from the U.S. treasury finance intelligence and military operations across the globe, making the United States the most stalwart enemy of terrorists.

2. The president of the United States doesn’t need to march in the streets of Paris to prove his nation’s commitment.

3. Somebody should find out how many federal agents, spies, and intelligence assets the United States has dispatched to Europe since the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Does anybody think the Obama administration hasn’t flooded the zone?

4. Obama’s presence at the rally would have been disruptive. The apparatus that follows the U.S. president is isolating and suppressive – a direct counter to the vibe that organizers achieved in the streets of Paris.

5. Obama and his national security team are rightly worried about the next 9/11. Only hard work and good luck have kept the wolves at bay this long. An attack like the ones in Paris last week keeps U.S. national security personnel awake at night because among their greatest fears are so-called lone wolf attacks on soft targets in the United States. There could have been a copycat.

Here’s my thought process: Had there been an attack on U.S. soil while Obama marched in Paris, I would have wondered whether the president and his team had taken their eyes off the ball. Wouldn’t that be the natural reaction? The conservative Outrage Machine would have demanded impeachment proceedings.

Personally, I’ve got no problem with the U.S. ambassador representing my country in Paris. If it was my call to make, I would have put Biden on a plane.

But did Obama let the world down? Take a breath. After all this country has done for Europe in the last century, let’s not confuse a mistake with something more meaningful.

He wrote this earlier in the day before all the information was in, and the same security issues related to Obama would probably also apply to Biden. Whether it was still a mistake not to send Biden is far more debatable with more facts now in, but regardless Fournier is correct that, even if it was a mistake, it is “no disgrace” and hardly anything meaningful.

Update: Dana Milbanks wrote about the hypocrisy of the Republican attacks. He also pointed out that sending Obama with this little lead time was “never a possibility, for security and logistical reasons.” As most reasonable people (meaning non-Republicans) would, he characterizes the failure to send anyone else of higher rank than the ambassador a faux pas. He also states that, “Officials I spoke to said it was a simple screw-up: They didn’t understand how significant the event would be, with leaders of some 40 countries in attendance.” There was no strategic importance to Obama being there and there was no insult to the French (which until this week would hardly be of concern to conservatives).

The White House admits it was wrong, but again the error was one of public relations, not of anything of real significance or to justify the current attacks from the right, which are more about their usual pattern of attacking anything done by Obama.


  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    “After all this country has done for Europe in the last century”!

    Eh?  What?  Does he mean going to war against Germany?  Sorry, but it took GERMAN ATTACKS to get you shifted off your neutral arses!  And it rapidly became clear in WWII that one of your, or at least the Democrat party’s, main geo-political aims was to dismantle the British empire. Well, thanks for that, buddy – and actually I mean it because personally I was glad to be shot of the damn thing which was costing us a fortune!

    if Japan had not attacked the USA and if Hitler HAD NOT DECLARED WAR ON AMERICA FIRST!!!, how long do you think it would have taken for you to get involved in Europe?  Not that I blame you.  I’m with Palmerston on this:
    “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

    Fournier is an a-historical twit!

    As for Obama he has yet to learn a concept called ‘noblesse oblige’.  The excuses about ‘security’ are instantly shown up for what they are by the fact that Netanyahu had the guts to attend.  As for the French government re-action, do you and that idiot Fournier seriously believe that they would say anything else to the leader of the most powerful nation on the globe?

    Get real!

  2. 2
    David Duff says:

    And anyway, the so-called ‘leaders’ march’ was nowhere near any crowds, it all took place in private!


    So I ask again, where was your ‘leader’?

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    As I pointed out both in this post and in the comments to the previous post. there was no reason for Obama to be present there, especially when the French government preferred that he not go. The security measures used whenever an American president travels would have been disruptive to the city, and there was not enough time. Even this “private” event was outside and there were far too many people involved for the usual security checks to be conducted on the area and everyone involved.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    When the US got involved in World War II is irrelevant to this matter. It does not change what the US did,and has no bearing on the more pertinent point regarding the actual assistance the US is giving France as opposed to a photo-op.

    Netanyahu’s presence has zero bearing on US security protocols, which could not be implemented in the short time since the White House was aware of the event, and which have been disruptive to the March. Because of these concerns, the French government did not want either Netanyahu or Obama to attend. The fact that Netanyahu did not respect this is hardly a reason for Obama to also make the same mistake.

    Get real??? You have shown zero reason why he should have attended and we both know that if he had attended you would be echoing the right wingers, who you mindlessly follow 100 percent of the time, in attacking Obama for going. This has absolutely nothing about the event and is entirely about Obama-bashing.

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