You’ve all seen this by now, Obama went before the media with some prepared remarks after attending a Tribal Conference on November 5th. Everyone understandably expected him to start off by saying some appropriate words about the Fort Hood Massacre that had just occurred, as that was the much more pressing issue at the moment. Instead he bantered light-heartedly for two minutes about the conference:
Eventually he made some obligatory remarks about the Fort Hood tragedy, (13 dead, and 30 wounded), but if compared to his reactions to other shootings, this year, his response seemed understated. The Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor noticed:
In the Tiller case, the president was “shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning.” In the case of the museum attack, Obama was “shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.”
But when it came to the horrendous Ft. Hood shootings, the term “shocked” was nowhere to be found. Instead, the initial response was shoehorned into comments he made opening the White House Tribal Nations Conference. First there were a couple applause lines to Native Americans and Obama’s “shout out to that Congressional Medal of Honor winner,” who appears not to have won the medal. (Joe Medicine Crow won the Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor.)
Then the president addressed the shooting. While he called the incident “horrible” and a “tragedy” and urged “prayers,” the response seemed understated compared to the other incidents. Then, in true Obama fashion, he did manage to make the shootings at least in part about him. “I want all of you to know that as commander in chief, that there’s no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security when they are at home is provided for us.”
Two minutes and 39 seconds later he was done and without even taking a breath back to talking about the Native American event. Nowhere in his speech or his remarks the next day did he even acknowledge that the attacker was a Muslim. In his statement after the museum attack, he correctly criticized “anti-Semitism and prejudice” but made no mention of religion in the latest incident.
Robert A. George, writing for Chicago.com was taken aback by Obama’s “Frightening Insensitivity”:
After news broke out of the shooting at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas, the nation watched in horror as the toll of dead and injured climbed. The White House was notified immediately and by late afternoon, word went out that the president would speak about the incident prior to a previously scheduled appearance. At about 5 p.m., cable stations went to the president. The situation called for not only his trademark eloquence, but also grace and perspective.
But instead of a somber chief executive offering reassuring words and expressions of sympathy and compassion, viewers saw a wildly disconnected and inappropriately light president making introductory remarks. At the event, a Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian affairs, the president thanked various staffers and offered a “shout-out” to “Dr. Joe Medicine Crow — that Congressional Medal of Honor winner.” Three minutes in, the president spoke about the shooting, in measured and appropriate terms. Who is advising him?
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.
People are comparing this to President Bush’s ” Pet Goat” moment after the 9/11 attacks, and while I’ve never fully understood Bush’s momentary paralysis at that time, I do know that it was not due to insensitivity. If anything, it was an over abundance of sensitivity to the children in the room, whom he didn’t want to frighten.
I also suspect that President Bush knows the difference between the Congressional Medal of Honor, and The Medal of Freedom, which is what Obama actually awarded Joe Medicine Crow back in August.
The indispensable Newsbusters:
Ah, the dangers of giving shout outs without a teleprompter. Crow is not a Medal of Honor recipient. As noted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society:
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Crow’s name is not included on the Society’s Medal of Honor recipient list. He was, however, awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in August.
Where-o-where was TOTUS?