Tags: Barack Obama | Hollywood | Funeral | Funerals

Attending Funerals Must Transcend Partisanship

By Wednesday, 16 March 2016 01:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

After President Obama deliberately skipped the funerals of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, many find it impossible to escape a feeling of contempt for our commander in chief.

It was inexcusable to miss either one. Period.

That lack of common decency reinforced the idea, to both sides, that partisan battle lines should be drawn all the way to the grave.

Where has American civility gone when our president cannot spare a few short hours to honor some of our most iconic leaders?

Without question, President Obama could have attended both funerals. He wasn’t abroad signing a monumental trade deal, but at home.

In skipping Mrs. Reagan’s funeral, the president chose a much more pressing duty: attending the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.

How is it possible to eschew paying your respects in favor of a concert?

A concert, by the way, that runs for 10 days. And even if Mr. Obama had his heart set on attending SxSW on the day of the funeral, he could have departed immediately after the service.

A funny thing happens when you command Air Force One — people get out of your way.

No long airport security lines, no endless runway delays, no traffic congestion.

And no, security precautions were not an issue, since both venues were accustomed to high-profile visitors. And even if there had been a threat, since when do we allow our president to be dictated to, particularly in his own country?

If we do, trite as it sounds, our enemies will have won.

Bottom line. The president chose not to attend for one reason: he didn’t feel like it.

So why didn’t he? Two possible reasons. His aloofness has reached new heights, and he has checked out as president.

Mr. Obama has always exhibited a somewhat detached demeanor, but failing to grasp the importance of honoring those who have contributed so much to America is unfathomable.

And a staffer’s hastily written condolence statement doesn’t cut it.

Is the president counting the days until his term ends? Undoubtedly.

He knows his policy initiatives will go nowhere, and is a lame duck.

So all the more reason to build his legacy by embarking on an “ambassador”-type tour in his remaining months. Have to go to Mrs. Reagan’s funeral? Fine.

Do your duty, then go play golf at Pebble Beach and hobnob in Hollywood with some movie stars. Sure, maybe he wanted to be elsewhere.

But for the sake of his legacy, he should have sucked it up and gone through the motions.

By comparison, Hillary Clinton attended. Was it because a pollster told her she would look good, or out of a genuine affinity for a fellow first lady? Who knows, and who cares?

Unlike the president, Mrs. Clinton did the right thing, and that’s all that counts.

Defenders say there were numerous instances where former presidents did not attend the funerals of Supreme Court justices. So what?

Predecessors’ mistakes don’t give the current leader a green light to do the same thing,

It would seem partisanship was a big factor. Had it been a Democratic first lady or a liberal Justice, the likelihood of Mr. Obama attending would have been infintestiamally greater.

And that makes the sin mortal. But make no mistake, the president is not alone.

Before, quite literally, Justice Scalia’s body was cold, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,  announced that the GOP would block any Supreme Court nominee of the president.

Beyond the sheer idiocy of that move (it made Republicans look petty and partisan — not the image a party wants to take into a tough election), it was a smack in the face to the Scalia family.

Was Justice Scalia only good for his vote?

Was Antonin Scalia the human being completely irrelevant to McConnell and the Republican sheep who echoed his comments? Why couldn’t they have waited until after the justice was laid to rest to get so political?

The examples set by the president and majority leader set the tone for a Washington culture that considers it treasonous to befriend, let alone work with, anyone on the other side. That mindset cascades downward, infecting everything from the business world to school boards to youth sports.

And it is toxic.

Nancy Reagan’s passing is the end of an era remembered for its civility, one personified by The Gipper himself.

America’s leaders would do well to rediscover the lost art of talking to each other, putting people before politics.

Will we ever return to those halcyon days when respect and courtesy were commonplace?

Hard to say. But this much is certain: that transformation can only begin one conversation at a time.

And it starts with the president. So this election, choose wisely.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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America’s leaders would do well to rediscover the lost art of putting people before politics. Will we ever return to those days when respect and courtesy were commonplace? This much is certain. That transformation can only begin one conversation at a time. It starts with the President.
Funeral, Funerals
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 01:51 PM
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