Obama cancels entire Asia trip over shutdown to, er ... not negotiate

If this is a part of the Washington Monument strategy, it’s a rather strange tactic for it.  Barack Obama had planned to travel to four Asian countries this week, but earlier reduced the trip by half, supposedly because of the budget crisis in Washington.  Late last night, the White House cancelled the whole trip, sending Secretary of State John Kerry in Obama’s place instead:


President Obama has cancelled the rest of his trip to Asia next week, pulling out of summits in Indonesia and Brunei because of the ongoing government shutdown, the White House announced tonight.

“The president made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement. …

“The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government,” Carney said. “This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world.  The president looks forward to continuing his work with our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific and to returning to the region at a later date.”

So …. this is basically a protest? Or is the White House arguing that the impasse has shut down the Presidency? Obama has been arguing for weeks that he won’t negotiate in the budget fight, so why should he need to cancel a foreign-policy trip at all?  This would appear to be the perfect time to get away, and perhaps even to raise his stature a little as the head of state, rather than the Barricade Barack who ordered open-air memorials to be blocked from visiting World War II veterans.


Andrew Malcolm wonders if the trip was necessary in the first place if sitting around and pouting is a higher priority:

The good news is President Obama finally canceled his entire extraneous trip to Asia, which was set to start tomorrow.

Not because he’s going to conscientiously immerse himself in solving the ongoing partial government shutdown like a real president. But, naturally, because of how it would look otherwise.

This keen student of politics apparently realized, or someone tipped him, that the optics of Obama convivially chatting up and negotiating with Asian leaders and a sultan in four faraway countries looked a little funny with his own government paralyzed.

Because the alleged American leader has so adamantly refused to negotiate with fellow Americans of another political party about this partial government shutdown.

So, Obama will be in Washington this weekend.

In related news, although his administration tried unsuccessfully to bar aged veterans from visiting Washington’s open-air World War II Memorial, somehow the D.C.-area military golf courses remain open and available this weekend should some commander-in-chief choose to play, as he did last Saturday.

Also, coincidentally, the Maryland presidential retreat of Camp David remains open and available, thanks to its 200+ full-time military personnel on perpetual standby to help the president shoot skeet or something.


IBD’s Michael Ramirez takes a shot at the Washington Monument strategy, too:


The decision to stick around and not negotiate is very odd, especially with yesterday’s CBS poll that shows compromise and negotiation as an across-the-board demand:

The overwhelming response from all demographics is compromise. Over the whole sample, 76% want Obama and the Democrats to compromise, and 78% want House Republicans to compromise. Sixty-one percent of Democrats want to see compromise from their own side, and 59% of Republicans feel the same way. That suggests that the “clean CR or else” and “I won’t negotiate” messaging from Reid and Obama will eventually backfire, especially as House Republicans send individual appropriations with little disagreement to the Senate only to get them rejected out of hand.

The White House could have gotten Obama out of the fray and onto the high-profile arena of global diplomacy.  That would have elevated his status while making Congress look petty in comparison.  Instead, Obama will sit in the White House and refuse to negotiate, which makes him look at least as petty as Congress, and undermine his credibility on leadership even further.  Canceling the trip looks a lot more like a temper tantrum than the act of a statesman, either domestically or internationally.


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