Published September 24, 2012
As world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Obama and the first lady gathered with the women of the daytime talk show,“The View,” sadly choosing show business over the business of foreign relations. Leadership is about priorities, what does this say about the priorities of our president?
The White House says the scheduled appearance on the couch of “The View” didn’t allow him to meet with world leaders. On the heels of the worst terrorist attack since 9/11, the question in the White House scheduling office shouldn’t have been whether the president has time to meet with world leaders, the question should have been “does he have time for ‘The View?’”
While President Obama will address the UN Assembly Tuesday, but has turned the face-to-face meetings over to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The leader of the free world chose to sit on the couch with Barbara, Whoopi, and Joy when he should be engaged in bilateral talks with the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
The Obama campaign insists the president is not shunning the visiting dignitaries. Senior Campaign Adviser Robert Gibbs told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace "they have telephones in the White House ... we don't need a meeting in Washington just to confer with leaders.”
That’s not true, there’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Foreign relations is about relationships; you build on them in person. A true leader doesn’t find time in the schedule for such critical talks, a true leader makes time for it. When you have diplomats and heads of state from 193 nations gathered in this country, you move things around, you work them in. I’m sure the crew of “The View” would be willing to reschedule.
I understand the value of campaigns using non-traditional media, like “The View,” which is often the sole source of political news and information for many voters. Unfortunately for voters, information about the current $16 trillion debt number escaped the president’s memory on his most recent Letterman appearance. Every campaign has sought refuge in a safe, soft-ball interview; but President Obama continues to do so at his own peril.
Despite his packed schedule, he has given exclusive access to non-political publications like ESPN, Glamour, and radio host “Pimp with a Limp.” These interviews often include the “gentleman’s agreement” to avoid talk of politics.
With “The View” interview, clearly, the Obama campaign is looking at the fact they can reach millions of people, six weeks out from the election. The problem is, two weeks after the terror attacks that killed our Libyan Ambassador and three others, our president needs to be in private meetings with foreign leaders. Leading from the front starts with getting in front of people to discuss important issues.
What are the priorities of a president who has missed half of his daily intel briefing, declines a meeting with Netanyahu, yet has time for Beyonce, Jay Z, and Sarah Jessica Parker? This is the tail wagging the dog, our president refuses to see what is truly important, choosing instead what is not.
Every campaign strives to avoid bad optics; an event or photo that would create a negative view on public perception. The irony is not lost in that “The View” itself here is bad optics. Not just for the campaign, but our country.
Alice Stewart is a Republican Strategist, former Press Secretary for the presidential campaigns of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Mike Huckabee. She is Spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America.