Wait, Who's Political?
12:35 AM, Sep 13, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
A few hours later, shortly after 2:00 p.m., Obama boarded Air Force One for Las Vegas, the first stop in a two-day campaign swing that includes a stop in Golden, Colorado, on Thursday. The campaign that never really stopped was back on. At a press gaggle en route, a reporter asked a question of White House press secretary, Jay Carney.
“This is not a time to try to score political points. As the President said, as a general practice, politics should be put aside when the lives of American personnel are at risk, as they were last night.”
So, when Clinton was speaking or when the campaign was unveiling its abortion ad? Carney didn’t say.
Another reporter asked a question of Jen Psaki, a spokesman for the Obama campaign. “Can you just elaborate a little bit more of what we can expect from the president at the event later today? Should we still be thinking of this as a campaign rally?”
“This is still a campaign event,” she said, noting that the “tone will reflect events of the last 24 hours.” Obama, she continued, “will talk about his vision for the future of the country, including many of the steps that he talked about last Thursday” – in his address at the Democratic National Convention.
She concluded this way: “When we arrive, the President will deliver remarks to Obama for America’s National Volunteer Leaders video conference. This is a monthly conference that provides OFA team leaders with national campaign updates and serves as an opportunity for the leaders and volunteers to interact and share insights. He will also take a few questions, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear that, view that as well.”
Indeed, at the event for campaign supporters in Las Vegas, Obama acknowledged the losses in Libya and drew parallels between the difficulties overseas and the campaign here at home. “The sacrifices that our troops and our diplomats make are obviously very different from the challenges that we face here domestically but like them, you guys are Americans who sense that we can do better than we're doing....I'm just really proud of you.”
If Mitt Romney had consulted me, I would have recommended waiting to comment. On the one hand, there's no better place to debate these big issues than a presidential campaign; in a sense, it's why we have campaigns. But I'm more sympathetic to the view that Jay Carney articulated -- that politics ought to stop at the water's edge and that criticism of the commander-in-chief in the midst of a crisis is best kept quiet.
But Romney never asked. And, in any event, there was no pause.
So as the media pound Mitt Romney for allegedly violating the inviolable space around 9/11 and difficulties overseas, remember this about Barack Obama. He sought campaign volunteers and his top adviser launched a harsh attack on Romney early on 9/11. His top surrogate, Bill Clinton, let loose a tough attack on Romney and entitlements that evening. Obama rejected a meeting with a key ally potentially on the verge of war at least in part because he might need to be campaigning at the end of the month. And after a pause of his campaign activities that lasted approximately 14 ½ hours, the president resumed his normal campaign schedule with a trip to Las Vegas, where gave a speech that echoed his address to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week.
Who’s being political?