Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, May 16, 2013
For the second time this week, President Obama had a joint press conference with a European leader overshadowed by his administration’s scandals.
It was supposed to be a week for the president to focus on his foreign policy agenda, with scheduled visits from British Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the agenda. It quickly became anything but that, however.
Cameron, who is hosting the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next month, travelled across the pond to talk with the president about the rising conflict in Syria and the Middle East as well as various other economic matters in the lead-up to the summit. Erdoğan also came to talk with the president about Syria, as well as the trade relations between the two countries and the prime minister’s planned trip to the Gaza Strip in June – something that theObama administration isn’t too thrilled about.
Unfortunately for both Cameron and Erdoğan, the two men were relegated to standing behind a podium as their American counterpart was peppered with question after question about a scandal originating from his administration.
Cameron was able to sneak in a major policy announcement – that he plans on doubling the amount of nonmilitary aid the U.K. gives to the Syrian opposition – at one point, but even that went largely unnoticed on this side of the Atlantic.
The British prime minister even had to mutter pleasantries to Obama for his so called kind words about the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This is despite the fact that the president didn’t send any current member of his cabinet – including Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry – to Thatcher’s funeral, and that Senate Democrats held up a resolution honoring the late Iron Lady for days.
At the time of Cameron’s press conference, the American people were only familiar with two of the three scandals that have since engulfed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Prime Minister Erdoğan, while standing under an umbrella in the rain, had to sit back and wait as Obama spent more than 20 minutes answering questions on all three of the ongoing scandals.
In fact, Obama decided to pull a fast one on the media – and Erdoğan – by inserting a statement on Benghazi in the middle of his prepared remarks. Obama even had the gall to ask the Turkish prime minister if it was ok for him to speak about Benghazi at that moment, because apparently Erdoğan had a choice to say no that none of us knew about!
It’s embarassing, quite frankly, that the president had to waste Cameron’s and Erdoğan’s time like this. Perhaps the press corps wouldn’t have had to hijack the two joint press conferences this week to ask the president about his personal scandals – if Obama had done the right thing and held a separate press conference to discuss them.
With the news that Israel unilaterally launched its own attacks on Syria earlier this month, it is more important than ever that the leaders of the western world come together and prevent Syria from starting World War III. The same goes for keeping nuclear weapons out of North Korea and resolving the tensions in the Middle East between Israel, Iran and Hezbollah, among other things.
And that’s not going to happen if Obama continues to not treat his contemporaries with the respect they deserve when they come visit us.