Obama will not attend Scalia funeral
The funeral for Justice Antonin Scalia will be held Saturday. Official Washington will pause and take stock of the life of a great man and a great jurist.
Well, most of official Washington. President Barack Obama has discovered he has something more important to do and will not attend. Instead, he will be at the Supreme Court on Friday to "pay his respects" – a typical empty gesture from a man who apparently can't resist delivering one last snub to a justice who opposed him at every turn.
Vice President Joe Biden will attend Scalia's funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the White House said Wednesday during a press briefing.
When pressed for clarification on Obama missing the funeral, White House press secretary Josh Earnest repeated that "the president will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on Friday and he'll be joined with the first lady when he does that."
When asked whether Obama's Saturday plans include golfing, Earnest stressed instead that the president believes it is important to honor Scalia's life and service.
Four out of the past seven funerals for a Supreme Court justice have either had the president or vice president in attendance.
Former President George W. Bush attended the funeral for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Former President Bill Clinton attended the funerals for former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice William Brennan but did not attend the funerals for Justices Harry Blackmun or Lewis F. Powell Jr.
Former Vice President Al Gore attended the funeral for Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Obama did find time to attend the funeral of these notables:
- Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Less than two months before the 2012 election, both Obamas took time out of their schedule to attend the funeral of Senator Inouye. President Obama openly wept over the liberal senator.
- Hadiya Pendleton
Three days before his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama sent Michelle on his behalf to the funeral of 15-year-old shooting victim Hadiya Pendleton. Obama’s decision to send Michelle to the Chicago teen’s funeral set the stage for his SOTU address, in which he called for further gun control restrictions.
- Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Despite Robert Byrd’s well-known ties to the Ku Klux Klan, President Obama attended the Democratic senator’s funeral. Obama gave a speech at the ceremony and called the late senator his friend.
- Reverend Clementa Pinckney
Reverend Pinckney, who also served as a South Carolina state senator, was one of the nine people killed in the Charleston shooting last summer. Despite never having met Pinckney, President Obama delivered his eulogy.
- Former Democratic House speaker Tom Foley
Just six months after snubbing the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, President Obama attended the funeral of former Democratic speaker of the House Tom Foley. As he tends to do when actually attending funerals, Obama delivered a speech.
- Walter Cronkite
When the legendary newscaster passed away in September 2009, President Obama found room in his schedule to travel to New York for the memorial service. Once again, Obama gave a speech at the service. He openly admitted that he never met Cronkite.
I guess we know now who the president thinks is important enough to warrant his presence at the solemn funeral proceedings.
A talking head newscaster rates a presidential trip to New York, but the passing of the senior justice of the Supreme Court – a man who served nearly 30 years on the bench – gets the back of his hand. An obscure state senator who died tragically in a mass shooting apparently has more standing than one of the most outstanding jurists in the history of the court.
The common thread through the funerals of those individuals he attended is that in death, they could do the president some partisan political good. Scalia was useless to him politically, so Obama felt no need to honor him by attending his memorial service.
No doubt this petty man gets petty satisfaction from insulting a far, far better man than he.