I'm old enough to remember when any American leader who stood in solidarity with France and other (socialist, commie, effete, gibberish-talking) European leaders was relentlessly hectored by the American right. Remember when Secretary of State John Kerry ran for president in 2004 and just because he spoke fluent French, he was insulted by the Bush campaign as being "too French," which was coded language for "too gay?" For a short and shockingly insane period of time, House conservatives actually changed "French Fries" and "French Toast" to "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast" in the congressional cafeteria. Why? Because according to former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) the French "sat on the sidelines" in the Global War on Terrorism. How times have changed.
Fast forward to Sunday when an estimated 3.7 million demonstrators gathered in Paris to march in support of Charlie Hebdo and free speech following last week's deadly terrorist strike there. The march has been called the largest gathering in French history, and included around 40 world leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Francois Hollande.
No, President Obama wasn't there. As of this writing, the White House hasn't given a specific reason for his absence, other than a previously scheduled summit in India, but the reasoning ought to be obvious to anyone with functioning gray-matter. First, there are massively complicated security issues that would've stymied the event. Doy. Second, when was the last time a U.S. president -- any president -- marched in a demonstration anywhere? Doy again. Third, a random glance at the news from the last 14 years will show a pretty solid and comprehensive U.S. posture against terrorism. Doy a third time. And finally, in spite of these points, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley did, in fact, attend -- a fact that was seldom reported on Sunday.
All of these points, however, were lost on the French-hating Freedom Fries bros who immediately lashed out at Obama's absence from the rally.
Greta Van Susteren:
Fox News Channel's Todd Starnes:
Yes, because Obama absolutely should've marched arm-in-arm with the socialist (literally) French president -- not to mention Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas no less! -- when in the past he's been mercilessly attacked for customarily bowing or merely shaking hands with other allegedly dubious world leaders. What possibly could've gone wrong?
Ever since Hollande ascended to power, right-wing pundits have desperately plotted to couple Obama with Hollande as two socialist peas in a pod. See Forbes, Town Hall, PJ Media and Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller, for example. But now he's a pariah and a layabout for not rallying in solidarity with France and Hollande. Yes, one thing we can all count on in this life is that when it comes to Obama, the GOP will kneejerk and take exactly the opposite position, even if it means directly contradicting their own prior views.
Even if he had attended, conservatives would've hurled their feces at Obama about his choice of suit, or for chewing gum, or for not sporting a "Je Suis Charlie" pin, or, I don't know, for refusing to wear a beret while riding a bicycle with a handlebar basket full of baguettes. Again, whatever he does, they demand the opposite. Always.
By the way, if we're poking U.S. leaders for not attending the march, where was Speaker John Boehner? Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? Majority Whip Steve Scalise (oh, that's right)? Where was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who eviscerated Obama's response on the Sunday shows? Where was soon-to-be presidential candidate Jeb Bush? Or Mike Huckebee? Or Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)? Or Chris Christie? What about Mitt Romney? Or Sarah Palin? Did any Fox News Channel pundits, such as Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity or Greta Van Susteren, ask to go to Paris to provide coverage from the march? Doesn't look like it.
There was literally nothing preventing any of these people from attending, other than, of course, the musky taint of appearing too cozy with the freedom-hating French in clear view of the GOP's ignorant redneck base.
Fortunately, there's a silver lining to this line of attack. We're witnessing a sort of death rattle of anti-Obama radicals. It's difficult to imagine anything more pathetic than American conservatives backpedaling and completely about-facing on decades of obnoxious French jokes in order to score a jab against President Obama. Reason being, there's nothing left in the tank. It's nothing but loud noises now because none of their dire predictions about the Obama presidency have come true. Indeed, the exact opposite has occurred. Since his inauguration, the economy has gone from the deepest recession since the 1930s to an economic boom, with American job creation setting records; American manufacturing making a significant rebound; American energy production leading the world; deficits cut by nearly a trillion dollars; gas prices under two-dollars; the war in Afghanistan concluded; healthcare is affordable; Bin Laden is dead; and a stock market topping 18,000.
And so, consequently, they're attacking the president's golfing and tan suit while wondering why he's not marching in a demonstration with the socialist president of France. Hilarious.
UPDATE: Okay, so Obama didn't attend a totally staged photo-op on an empty secured block without an actual protester anywhere. Impeach!