On the front of Tuesday's Style section of The Washington Post is an article titled "Hallowed ground, restored to its roots." The Post assigned gardening writer Adrian Higgins, who wrote of an "elaborate celebration of the 150th anniversary of the president's original remarks" at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. But nowhere in the 25-paragraph story about clearing the landscape is there any notion that Barack Obama, who has routinely compared himself to Lincoln, refused to attend.
George Condon of National Journal was the latest to report on the snub: "Instead of going to Gettysburg, he will go to the Four Seasons Hotel to address The Wall Street Journal CEO Council's annual meeting and talk about the economy. In his place, he has dispatched little-known Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to the ceremonies." Spokesman Jay Carney offered nothing to reporters:
Asked Monday about the president's absence, press secretary Jay Carney said simply, "I don't have any scheduling updates to provide to you." He added, "Obviously, that address and that moment in time is seminal in our history. I think that all Americans across the country will have the opportunity to think about those words and that address." But as to why the president is staying away? "I don't have anything more for you."
...The York Daily Record called his decision "unacceptable." The paper's editorial board wrote that the nation's first African-American president should be there on Tuesday. "President Obama could have used this occasion to offer words of healing and reconciliation--as his Illinois forefather once did." Conservative author Steven F. Hayward was more biting in an article in Forbes, contending that the president is showing "diffidence or disdain for American icons."
Condon noted that other presidents had to be talked into speaking at Gettysburg anniversary events – Woodrow Wilson in 1913, Franklin Roosevelt in 1938, and Lyndon Johnson in 1963. But unlike the others, Obama refused to budge.
The first TV person to notice should be "historian" Chris Matthews, who proclaimed that Obama's "race speech" in 2008 was "A speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln....I think this is the kind of speech I think first graders should see, people in the last year of college should see before they go out in the world. This should be, to me, an American tract." The first radio person to notice ought to be NPR morning anchor Steve Inskeep, who blatantly compared Obama to Lincoln in a 2012 interview with Obama strategist David Axelrod.