He'll Sit This One Out
I'm embarrassed and ashamed that the sitting president of the United States won't attend PM Margaret Thatcher's funeral. Of course, I'm also embarrassed and ashamed at who the sitting president of the United States is. So maybe this president's not going is a good thing.
Maggie Thatcher wasn't perfect by any stretch. But she was the last UK leader who combined backbone, feistiness, a tongue that could lash, and the distinct echo of fading British doggedness. She gave every bit as good as she got.
Thus, our Disser-in-Chief's refusal to attend yields pained mixed feelings. On the one hand -- at the ceremonial level -- the U.S. publicly snubs the UK once again. Not wise, not to our moral or strategic advantage, not respectful to our ally, not friendly, not politic. And not nice: in other words, signature Obama behavior.
But, on the other hand, he will get to gloat, smirk, and aggrandize himself at one poignant and important venue fewer than he otherwise might have. The POTUS -- not noted for taking pity on the poor, tired wings of Air Force One, and who will fly that stressed and ageing bird anywhere to reap a buck, or collect a prize, or fawn over a tyrant, or strut a night out, or scold us from afar -- just can't make it to England this time. Busy, mind you. And as a special extra gift to England, the Clintons reportedly won't be attending either. A not inconsiderable bonus.
Look at it this way: the solemn venue will be unsullied by whatever breath-robbing faux pas Obama would have surely taken coy pains to commit. And Lady Thatcher will be sent off with the valuable additional dignity conferred by his absence. On balance, I would say she wins again this final time, even in death.
Richard Kantro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org