Obama Attended Fundraiser Instead of Memorial Service

The scandal du jour is that Barack Obama was flying to a political fundraiser during a memorial for those killed in the BP explosion:

According his official schedule, President Obama did not attend the May 25 memorial service in Jackson, Mississippi for the workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion because he was en route to a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, in San Francisco.

At Thursday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked why Obama did not attend the service. The president’s spokesman answered, “I’d have to look at the schedule. I don’t know the answer.”

CNN examined the president’s schedule for that day, and according to it, the president left the White House at 2:55 p.m. EST en route to Andrews Air Force Base for the cross-country flight to the San Francisco fundraiser.

A Jackson source in possession of the memorial service program told CNN that the service began at 2:00 pm EST and lasted “more than an hour and a half” – putting the president in transit to the fundraiser during the second half of the memorial service.

The idea that the president would attend a memorial service for people he didn’t know who died in an industrial accident is baffling to me.   People die on the job all the time and presidents seldom go.   Hell, he’s the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and yet he doesn’t attend the funerals of those who die on his watch in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What stories like this accomplish, however, is to demonstrate that, contrary to the expectations he cultivated during the campaign, he’s a politician.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the unusual speed with which he climbed to the apex of political achievement.  But people are eagerly fooled on this front and then get outraged once they discover they’ve been had.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. grampagravy says:

    What stories like this accomplish is further outrage on the part of those who would be “outraged” to hear that Obama ate Wheaties, or showered in the morning instead of at night, or put both socks on before either shoe.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Did Sarah Palin, the “drill baby, drill” cheerleader attend?

  3. Wisco says:

    I’m pretty sure Bush left office without attending a single military funeral. That was fine with the right and those deaths were actually Bush’s fault.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I’m pretty sure Bush left office without attending a single military funeral.

    Right. The above isn’t a criticism of Obama but of the notion that presidents are supposed to attend these things.

    My point being that it would make more sense for them to attend the funerals of soldiers fallen under their command than BP workers killed in an industrial accident. But we don’t expect them to do that.

  5. Wisco says:

    My comment was meant to be an agreement. Or an additional point in support of the argument.

  6. James Joyner says: