As more than 40 heads of state locked arms and marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday, one country was noticeably absent: the United States.
While President Barack Obama took heat from political foes for failing to attend a historic event that drew major world leaders, he also was criticized by members of the mainstream media.
CNN's Jake Tapper
said he was "disappointed" not the President Barack Obama there.
"I don't mean this as a criticism of the Obama administration, but just as an American, I do wish that we were better represented in this beautiful procession of world leaders," Tapper said on the air while covering the event.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was there, as was German Chancelor Angela Merkel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas were on hand. So were Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.
But Obama stayed home, as did Vice President Joe Biden. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were in Paris for a terrorism summit, but neither appeared at the rally. U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley attended.
Secretary of State John Kerry was at a previously scheduled meeting in India, but Obama and Biden both had open schedules, according to pool reports.
Bloomberg View columnist Josh Rogin
noted that no high-level administration official attended a smaller rally in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House.
Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland was the only official government representative at the D.C. rally, Rogin reported.
He said attendees he spoke with didn't seem upset at the lack of officials present, saying that the Obama White House "simply isn’t skilled, or doesn’t care, about doing the small things that can make a big difference when it comes to maintaining relationships and showing respect."
But Rogin said "the White House often misses opportunities and lets poor optics overshadow positive contributions," including help the United States is giving France in the wake of last week's attacks.
Critics on Twitter were less kind, including conservative pundits.
Rogin reported that a senior White House official told him that the massive security required for either Obama or Biden to attend the rally would have overshadowed the event and made the United States the focus rather than the French.
The Twitterverse had some theories, with people sharing their opinions with the hashtag #ReasonsObamaMissedFranceRally:
Not all were critical:
But Rick Ungar wrote on Forbes.com
, "Should we be so fortunate as to see the Paris Unity March turn out to be the focal point that leads to more effective world-wide strategies to end terrorism, the United States will always be remembered as the world player who didn’t show up."
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