You can call this Barack Obama’s “My Pet Goat” moment:
THE PRESIDENT: Please, everybody have a seat. Let me first of all just thank Ken and the entire Department of the Interior staff for organizing just an extraordinary conference. I want to thank my Cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow was around, and so I want to give a shout-out to that Congressional Medal of Honor* winner. It’s good to see you. (Applause.)
My understanding is, is that you had an extremely productive conference. I want to thank all of you for coming and for your efforts, and I want to give you my solemn guarantee that this is not the end of a process but a beginning of a process, and that we are going to follow up. (Applause.) We are going to follow up. Every single member of my team understands that this is a top priority for us. I want you to know that, as I said this morning, this is not something that we just give lip service to. And we are going to keep on working with you to make sure that the first Americans get the best possible chances in life in a way that’s consistent with your extraordinary traditions and culture and values.
Now, I have to say, though, that beyond that, I plan to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for Native Americans, as well as collaboration with our administration, but as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
It took Obama almost two full minutes from the time he began speaking until he got around to mentioning the shooting at Fort Hood — the reason everyone tuned into Obama’s speech. The nation wanted some leadership at a time when it appeared that a terrorist attack may have taken place on American soil — and Obama was apparently more concerned about giving a “shout out” to his friends at the Tribal Nations Conference. Indeed, he tells the audience above that he’s been inconvenienced out of delivering his lengthier remarks because the shooting has intruded itself on his daily business.
Well, being Commander in Chief is his daily business, not pandering to the Tribal Nations Conference — and he should have started out this little missive with his priorities in order.
Update: Presidential disconnect:
Anyone at home aware of the major news story of the previous hours had to have been stunned. An incident like this requires a scrapping of the early light banter. The president should apologize for the tone of his remarks, explain what has happened, express sympathy for those slain and appeal for calm and patience until all the facts are in. That’s the least that should occur.
Indeed, an argument could be made that Obama should have canceled the Indian event, out of respect for people having been murdered at an Army post a few hours before. That would have prevented any sort of jarring emotional switch at the event.
Did the president’s team not realize what sort of image they were presenting to the country at this moment? The disconnect between what Americans at home knew had been going on — and the initial words coming out of their president’s mouth was jolting, if not disturbing. …
All the president’s men (and women) fell down on the job Thursday. And Democrats across the country have real reason to panic.
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