The plane went down around 11:30 ET, possibly with Americans on board and most assuredly with dire consequences for eastern European geopolitics.
At approximately 12:50 pm, the motorcade stopped at the Charcoal Pit, a popular, established restaurant just north of Wilmington, Del. Known for its burgers and sundaes. Obama shook hands and mingled with many of the diners, stopping at one point to pick up seven-month old Jaidyn Oates, and pose for a photo.
He invoked Vice Presiident Biden’s name a few names, noting to some diners, “Me and Joe, we share shakes all the time,” and to others, “Biden told me the burgers are pretty good.”
Just before hugging another young girl, whose mother lifted her across the booth to hug the president, Obama asked, “Do you give good hugs?”
At 1:01 pm Obama declared, “I’m starving!” He sat down to eat with Tanei Benjamin, who wrote the president a year ago. The president ordered a 4-ounce “Pit special,” which is burger with fries. He asked for it to be done medium well, and to have lettuce and tomato. He also asked for a water with lemon.
Two hundred ninety-five people are presumed dead and the evidence points at Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists, who were boasting earlier today on social media that they’d shot down what they thought was a Ukrainian cargo plane. This wasn’t the only plane crash in Ukraine recently either; U.S. officials blame the others on Russian proxies, so go figure that they’re the prime suspects in today’s horror too. (A separatist leader claims they didn’t do it but nobody believes him.) As Julia Ioffe says, taking down a passenger jet from Amsterdam means that the Ukraine war now has implications for civilians throughout Europe, not just those in Donetsk, which means (at a minimum) much harsher sanctions on Russia and dangerously poor relations with Moscow for NATO going forward. And yet, when O did finally step to the podium more than an hour later, here’s the wisdom his staff had prepared for him to impart:
“It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.”
Here’s the clip, which makes clear that his “statement on Ukraine” isn’t really a statement on Ukraine at all. It’s 60 seconds tacked onto a speech about infrastructure that was already planned for today. This guy will. not. be. thrown. off-message, even if people are falling from the sky over a war zone whose aggressors have already drawn U.S. sanctions. Exit quotation: “Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads.”
Update: I want to say “unbelievable” but it’s quite believable.
Of course. RT @markknoller: AF-1 wheels up from Delaware. Pres Obama en route to NYC for two Dem fundraisers. Both closed to press coverage
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 17, 2014
Update: Via Mark Hemingway, a study in contrasts.