Add snubbing the French to the ever-expanding list of impeachable offenses conservatives are attempting to use against Obama in the court of public opinion.
And we all know how much Republicans love the French, like the time the House of Representatives cafeterias switched the name of French Fries to FREEDOM Fries as part of a Republican led protest against France’s opposition to a war with Iraq. You remember Iraq? Bush the Second’s war which proved to be the wrong war, for the wrong reasons at the wrong time….
Republican Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), whose committee was in charge of the eateries at the time, said the action was “a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France”.
Ney’s accomplice in creating that oh-so-important name change, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) added: “Watching France’s self -serving politics of passive aggression in this effort has discouraged me more than I can say.”
So, getting back to Obama and the French, the White House offered the following, reasons for the President not attending the Paris Solidarity March, but before we get to that, there is a fourth, and possibly much more compelling reason why Obama stayed at home:
4. IT WAS ONE BIG PHOTO OP, NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS
While Fox News was busy airing images of the Paris Solidarity March like this:
a “different perspective on the leader’s portion of the march has emerged in the form of a wide shot displayed on French TV news reports,” as reported by The Independent.
The Independent goes on to note that the wider shots
“shows that the front line of leaders was followed by just over a dozen rows other dignitaries and officials – after which there was a large security presence maintaining a significant gap with the throngs of other marchers.
The measure was presumably taken for security reasons – but political commentators have suggested that it raises doubts as to whether the leaders were really part of the march at all.
All those world leaders: not exactly "at" the Paris rallies. pic.twitter.com/YPFq1sMf88
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) January 12, 2015
— Gerry Hassan (@GerryHassan) January 12, 2015
And there was also, the highly regarded Financial Times‘ Middle East correspondent Borzou Daragahi.
To show their commitment to free speech MT @mattsteinglassThey should have banned press from showing the full photo pic.twitter.com/NqqwO2Qlcn
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 12, 2015
The Independent goes on to note that it was observed that “nine of the countries represented by leaders and dignitaries in the march for press freedom are themselves in the bottom third of the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.”
As The Christian Post reported “The rally came together in a short period of time. The White House only learned of the event on Friday night. Presidential appearances at public events in modern times require planning, and more than the short notice the White House was provided.”
According to White House Press Secretary, “Well, the fact is, that is this is obviously a march that the planning for which only began on Friday night and 36 hours later it had begun,” adding that “We’re talking about a march that came together in about 36 hours, and a march that took place outdoors.”
Vox reported that as Earnest said, Obama’s participation could have been logistically difficult. NBC News’ First Read reports, “White House officials tell us that that they weren’t aware of the rally until Friday, and — for logistic and security purposes — they couldn’t have organized a trip that quickly.”
The Christian Post explained that the president of the United States requires more stringent security requirements than other world leaders. Earnest explained that
What’s also clear is that the security requirements around a presidential-level visit or even a vice presidential-level visit are onerous and significant. And in a situation like this, they typically have a pretty significant impact on the other citizens who are trying to participate in a large public event like this. We talk about this a lot when it comes to the President attending a basketball game, but the fact of the matter is there were not just thousands of people at the event — there were millions. It wasn’t just an arena that needed to be secured, but a large outdoor area that poses significant security challenges.
3. He Would Have Been a Distraction
Vox reported that “senior administration officials have given in off-the-record statements to press. ‘It is worth noting that the security requirements for both the President and (Vice President) can be distracting from events like this — for once this event is not about us!’ one told CNN’s Eric Bradner.”
Press Secretary Earnest elaborated in Monday’s press briefing:
[T]he security requirements around a presidential-level visit or even a vice presidential-level visit are onerous and significant. And in a situation like this, they typically have a pretty significant impact on the other citizens who are trying to participate in a large public event like this. We talk about this a lot when it comes to the President attending a basketball game, but the fact of the matter is there were not just thousands of people at the event — there were millions. It wasn’t just an arena that needed to be secured, but a large outdoor area that poses significant security challenges.
I’m confident that the professionals at the Secret Service could overcome those challenges, but it would have been very difficult to do so without significantly impacting the ability of common citizens to participate in this march. And after all, what I think was so impressive about this display is it demonstrated the unity of the French people. And that is something that we are always mindful of in situations like this, of interfering with those who are trying to attend an event, particularly when the purpose of the event is to demonstrate the unity of spirit and purpose of the people who are coming together.