Obamateurism of the Day
posted at 8:05 am on April 14, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
I’ve gotten some strange hat-tips on OOTDs before, but never one from Barack Obama himself. Yeah, and I still haven’t, although President Obama appears to have corroborated an odd set of circumstances over the weekend when he absented himself from the White House, ostensibly to visit his daughter’s soccer game. The press pool attempted to catch up with him, but quicker than one can flash a yellow card, suddenly Obama was no longer there. Cat Corben provides the details at The American Thinker:
Reading the story about President Obama breaking tradition and ditching the presidential press pool over the weekend to watch one of his daughter’s soccer games, it appears harmless, right? Not so. It is rather disturbing when you dissect it. So let’s do just that. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the press pool was to assemble at 11:30AM.
However, Time reported:
The president left the White House at approximately 9:20 to attend one of his daughter’s soccer games at 40th and Chesapeake NW. A pool was hastily called at around 9:35 and drove north at 9:43 to catch the president before the game ended. We didn’t make it. The President returned to the White House at 10:17. The pool returned at 10:30. We now return you to your regularly scheduled pool call time.
Seems simple enough. But the story has several problems. The first one is a biggie in that there were no scheduled soccer games for Sidwell Friends April 10, as evidenced here. The second is that the area reported that the game was played at appears to be one of high crime, as documented here and here. Additionally, this is a picture of the field via Google Maps, where Obama went to watch the game.
Another problem is that when the press pool got close to the reported location, they were told that Obama was leaving and to turn around. The press pool complied, but why? Wouldn’t they have wanted a photo of him, even leaving the event, to formally document his whereabouts? What’s also suspect is the very casual, nothing-to-see-here tone of the Time article.
Corben then parses the time down to a window of only 20 minutes that Obama could have possibly been at a soccer game, assuming one took place at all. So what happened? There may be occasions when Presidents need to ditch the press pool, for any number of legitimate purposes. Usually, it’s done to keep attention off of the President for some diplomatic or personal reason. If that was the case with this incident, it was handled about as poorly as one could imagine. Besides, any of those legitimate reasons would take more than the 57 minutes Obama took outside the White House.
That brings us back to the President, who sarcastically acknowledged the fumble:
Prior to Obama’s bilateral meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Obama told his colleague, “Apparently I caused quite a problem,” adding something about his secretary not telling the Secret Service, according to, ironically enough, the pool report.
“They were very upset about it,” he said. “It was big news today.”
The Associated Press wrote that Obama “quietly breached years of protocol” by leaving the White House Saturday morning without taking the press pool with him.
If the soccer-game story was on the level, then it’s even more amateurish. Why break protocol to attend 20 minutes of a game? After going to all that trouble, Obama should have stuck around for the entire event. Unless, perhaps, he had the date wrong in the first place and left after standing alone for a while — which may be the simplest answer that covers all of the facts.
Update: Tom Maguire thinks the soccer game was legit, which still leaves the amateurish handling of the press pool and raising the kerfuffle for a 20-minute visit, as I noted above.
Update II: Mark Knoller tweeted that one of his CBS colleagues was at the game and saw Obama there. (h/t HA reader Sparks)
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at email@example.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
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