The moment news hit that Brussels was hit by terrorist attacks that left dozens dead and hundreds injured, you just knew conservatives would use the situation to their political advantage. Besides tossing out Islamophobic red meat to their followers, they were also primed and ready to blame a tragedy on another continent on President Obama, because that’s just the natural course of action. Therefore, it came as little shock that they all got their panties in a bunch when Obama kept to his schedule and attended a baseball game during his historic trip to Cuba.
Well, by Wednesday night, they were provided another thing to be outraged by, as Obama was in Argentina and danced the tango at a state dinner. The humanity! Doesn’t he know he’s mocking Belgium in its most dire time of need by being a gracious guest in another country? Doesn’t he realize he’s emboldening ISIS and showing weakness? Who the fuck does he think he is?
Of course, it wasn’t just the usual suspects in Washington, the campaign trail and Fox News who were bent out of shape at the President’s actions. The so-called mainstream media jumped into the fray to carry that water for the right. And, lo and behold, the one with the biggest bucket was MSNBC’s Morning Joe, purveyor of conventional political wisdom.
During Thursday morning’s broadcast, host Mika Brzezinski (sorry folks, no Joe this time around) led a panel discussion on the ‘optics’ of Obama attending the game and dancing the tango shortly after the Brussels attacks. And, as you’d imagine, everyone was very, very distressed that Obama was caught on camera showing joy in different countries while a country that isn’t his own dealt with tragedy.
Morning Joe, where otherwise smart people get into debates like this: https://t.co/sQ4AjhYgiR
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) March 24, 2016
For Mika, she was already upset about the baseball game situation, and reminded viewers that she really didn’t like that Obama had his shirt sleeves rolled up and sunglasses on. (Yes, she said this.) World’s biggest political hack Mark Halperin also weighed in, saying that Obama should have put more thought in “stagecraft” when it came to attending the game, that he should have presented a more serious image.
One panelist, Richard Haass of the Council of Foreign Relations, stated that he disagreed with Republicans who called on Obama to cancel his trips to Cuba and Argentina. However, he agreed that he shouldn’t have been seen at a game or doing the tango, and he felt his advance team should have intervened when the President was asked to dance.
“However, the advance person who let him do the tango, that person ought to be looking for work on somebody’s — in somebody’s campaign very, very far away. That was a tremendous mistake. It’s fine to go to Argentina, you want to do the work, but you’ve got to be careful of these little photo ops and optics. Baseball games and tangos, that’s inconsistent with the seriousness of the day.”
However, the person who had the most severe case of the vapors was former Dubya staffer and current GOP talking points spewer Nicolle Wallace. The Morning Joe regular was all kinds of apoplectic, saying Obama was disrespecting the mothers of dead kids by dancing and watching a game.
“His policy choice was to proceed with everything on his schedule and not to react to the threat of terrorism and that is his prerogative, but it puts him vastly … out of step with the entire American public, not just Republicans. You heard Democrats yesterday increasingly uncomfortable with the choices he makes at a moment of crisis. There were mothers laying dead while their, you know, family members were at the crime scene yesterday and to look like the priority is to go on a foreign trip instead of pausing for a minute and explaining that to America is a communications crime.”
Yeah, not over the top at all, Nicolle, Not at all. Keep that faux outrage flowing.
The thing is, this is all just sanctimonious bullshit. Republicans just want to blame and excoriate the President for everything that happens in the entire world. It is all they know anymore. And cable news will parrot their idiotic complaints, giving it credence where it should have any. In this instance, America itself wasn’t hit by a terror attack or other horrific tragedy. It was another country. Yes, an ally. But Obama was also in the middle of a diplomatic trip to other countries, one of which hadn’t been visited by a U.S. president in nearly 90 years.
Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post said it best in a Wednesday column. He pointed out the inconsistency and hypocrisy Republicans display when it comes to asking for specific responses to terrorism abroad. During the Paris attacks, the right-wing criticisms were much like you see today, as Obama was in the middle of an Asia trip. However, during attacks on non-European soil, conservatives are deafeningly silent.
Where were the calls for Obama’s attention to and solidarity with Lebanon? Nigeria? Mali? What about Turkey? The nation that is the gateway of migrants fleeing the Syrian civil war by the millions is a NATO ally. A problematic one, but an ally nonetheless. Yet, nary a candle flickered nor a voice raised for a nation that has seen four terrorist attacks in 2016 already.
The person duly elected to sit in the Oval Office has the most demanding job on the planet. He (thus far) must be able to do several things at once and focus on myriad more. Most of the time, Obama gets it right. Yes, there have been times when he’s gotten it wrong. His reaction to Paris was not optimal. But the folks criticizing him have no leg to stand on. The silence greeting the carnage in places not Paris or Brussels by know-it-alls seeking to replace Obama makes their incessant criticism of the president as meaningless as their assertions that they could do better.
Look, I’ll go one further than Capehart. Terrorist attacks only have meaning if the majority of victims are white. If they are of a darker complexion, or have Muslim-sounding names, then they could care less. Yes, the Brussels and Paris attacks are tragic and worrisome, as it appears that there is a worsening situation in Europe regarding extremism. But, other countries are dealing with it on a much more frequent scale, and seeing far more people die.
Again, they only want Obama to drop everything and be sufficiently somber and serious when it impacts ‘real’ victims. If it happens in Kenya, or Turkey, or Ivory Coast, or Nigeria…well, you know. It just ain’t the same.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC: