PASADENA, CALIF – White House press secretary Josh Earnest was forced to answer tough questions Monday morning on the heels of the Obama administration’s decision not to send any high level officials to a unity rally in Paris to honor those murdered by radical Muslim extremists last week.
When Fox News reporter, Ed Henry, asked why no high ranking officials made the trip, Earnest deflected by blaming late notice as well as the security complexities presented by such a large outdoor gathering. That answer may have been satisfactory except for the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German President Angela Merkel and French President Hollande were all able to get there and figure out a security solution. Earnest had no response when Henry brought that point to his attention other than to admit the White House should have sent someone.
Henry also touched on one of the most inexcusable aspects of this situation. Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, was in Paris at the time of the rally along with his security detail. Earnest’s only response to that concern was that he didn’t know what Holder’s schedule was.
It gets worse. Not only did the president, vice-president, secretary of state, and attorney general all decline to appear at the rally, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was one of the leaders to attend. He even went so far as to walk arm and arm in the same row as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Abbas is a man who’s political party has called for the destruction of Israel and they were able to put aside their differences to symbolically stand with all those affected by the senseless killings.
It’s safe to say that the media would have hammered President George W. Bush for missing this rally. However, it’s almost a guarantee that he never would have missed it. Sadly, this is what we have come to expect from this administration. The president has shown a complete lack of interest when it comes to being vocal and aggressive about the threat of radical Islam. That’s not to say he hasn’t given plenty of speeches and directed lip service to the problem but there has been almost no action to accompany those words and no, airstrikes against ISIS don’t let him off the hook for that.
This is the same administration that famously referred to ISIS as the “JV team” less than a year before it went on a rampage through the middle east, the same administration that blamed Benghazi on a YouTube video, the same administration that blamed Charlie Hebdo for provoking Islam when it was firebombed in 2011. There is more to this situation than meets the eye. Eric Holder was miles away from this rally and didn’t make the time to come. That kind of thing doesn’t happen on accident and there is little doubt this was a calculated move.
Former Bill Clinton pollster, Doug Schoen, wrote that the level of disrespect President Obama showed the world makes him “ashamed” of our nation. He stopped short when he was asked if he thought the action was deliberate. It’s hard to understand why President Obama feels comfortable heading to the golf course immediately after James Foley was beheaded in Syria, but can’t find the time to make it to a rally for over a dozen murdered journalists and citizens with 36 hours notice. There has to be more to the story.
Schoen is right, it’s an embarrassment that the President didn’t show up. This rally was an opportunity for the President to prove his critics wrong. Obama should not be making decisions solely based on political ramifications but from a PR standpoint, attending would have shown strength in the fight against radical Islam. The President knew that, but chose to not come anyway. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Obama does not agree with the message this rally is sending or at the very least he is worried about offending Muslims across the world. That mentality is par for the course right now from this administration.
There is no question that the lack of American presence at such a globally significant event was a mistake. The image of world leaders marching arm and arm in solidarity with the people of France will never be forgotten. Over a million people showed up to support the victims of the Charlie Hebdo killings but the White House chose not to send one senior official. The photos from the rally speak volumes. President Obama’s fear of insulting Islam has reared it’s head once again but this time, the whole world was watching.