Obama's bizarre and frightening response to the shoot down of MH17
President Obama was in Delaware on Thursday when a Malaysian airliner went down near Ukraine's border with Russia. The president was scheduled to give a speech on transportation issues, but began his remarks talking about what, at that time, was thought to be a shoot down of a passenger jet.
President Barack Obama provoked fury in the U.S. on Thursday by casually devoting less than a minute to the deaths of 295 people aboard a Malaysian airliner, as he began an often jokey 16-minute speech about the need to expand America’s transportation infrastructure.
There are no confirmed American dead and the White House issued a statement on Thursday evening which said they were still seeking any 'information to determine whether there were any American citizens on board'.
An earlier Reuters report claimed that it was feared that as many as 23 U.S. citizens had perished.
Obama declared in Wilmington, Delaware that 'it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy,' but not before enthusiastically declaring that 'it is wonderful to be back in Delaware.'
Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.'
'And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian governemnt. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers, wherever they call home.
Obama then jarringly quickly returned to his prepared remarks.
'I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction' he said. 'Give Jeremie a big round of applause.'
'It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today. We've got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them.'
I checked the timeline of coverage to see if the president was just being cautious. The AP story on the president's remarks was published at 1:38 eaastern time. (Another reporter tweeted on the speech at 2:15.)
But the Ukraine government announced at 9:52 AM Eastern that the plane had been shot down. And numerous reports following that also declared that mass murder had taken place. The provenance of the missile that shot down the plane was and is still in doubt, but by the time the president mounted the podium in Delaware, the world had been informed that nearly 300 civilians had been murdered.
Some of the reaction to the president's bizarre remarks came from reporters on the scene:
Traveling in Denver, this reporter heard gasps from guests watching a hotel lobby television as Obama spoke.
One remarked: 'A tragedy is when you lose control and fly into a mountainside. This is mass-murder. What a disappointment.'
'His distance from reality is just bizarre,' said another.
Daniel Hannan, the British member of Europe's parliament who has rankled liberals in a series of American speaking tours, tweeted his own disgust.
'Listening to Obama's statement [on] the airline tragedy, my mind went back to Reagan 31 years ago,' he wrote.
'How America's leaders have shrunk.'
Obama finished his speech by saying 'Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. God bless America.'
Matt Viser, a Boston Globe reporter on the scene, tweeted a devastating reaction.
'Obama, in sum: A plane crashed. It may be tragic. We're trying to see if US citizens were on board. Hey, great to be in Delaware!' he wrote.
The president's next stop after Wilmington was New York City, where he headlines a Democratic Party fundraiser Thursday evening. Tickets for the cozy event go for as much as $32,400.
News of the plane crash reached the White House before Obama left for Delaware on Thursday morning. He ignored a question, shouted by a reporter as he departed, asking what he knew about the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
The White House will attribute excessive caution to the president's shocking remarks. But reporters were getting background from administration officials that the plane was shot down with a missile for several hours prior to the president's remarks. And, of course, the fact that he then went merrily on his way to a fundraiser while what amounts to an act of war was committed against US citizens is just one more indication how out of touch this president is.