On Sunday, the U.S. president was not up to the job. I am speaking here of the informal position of the leader of the free world: He cannot cry, “Je suis Charlie.” In the Paris march attended by 44 world leaders — and 1.5 million citizens — to express solidarity with France and to say no to Islamic terror, Obama did not show his face, and neither did Vice President Joe Biden. Not even Secretary of State John Kerry appeared.
On Monday afternoon, the White House admitted the gaffe (affront?) saying the government should have sent a high level person to Paris. The other annoyance of the day was the revelation that the Twitter and YouTube accounts of central command — based in Florida and dealing with the Middle East — were hacked in the name of the Islamic terrorist movement.
For the big march on Sunday, Washington sent a sub of a sub of a sub, the [U.S.] ambassador to Paris. To try to repair the damage, Kerry scheduled a trip to France, but for the end of the week.
There are the excuses that it was an issue of security, and that Obama did not want to be at the scene, but the idea was exactly that — to be present at the scene, charged as it was with symbolism. Obama could have at least lent his prestige by attending the march called by the French Embassy in Washington.
Gerard Seib of The Wall Street Journal, scathing without being strident (something I hope to be able to be when I get older) said that a crisis carries the seeds of opportunity. The tragedy in Paris represents an opportunity to change the global attitude in the face of extremism and intolerance. Obama wasted an opportunity.