The White House has announced that Obama is canceling his upcoming trip to Indonesia and Australia for the second time, promising to get to them later. Here is a statement from Gibbs:
President Obama spoke tonight with Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, and with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia. President Obama expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip to Asia that was scheduled for later this month. The President looked forward to rescheduling so that he can visit both countries soon.
Given that there is a national emergency in our country with the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis, it is very much the right thing to do.
The problem here is that he already canceled the same trip in March so he could focus on passing the health bill. Now, I’d never heard of a president nixing a foreign trip so he could pass a bill. But Obama promised change.
It is this earlier faux pas that makes the current situation so egregious.
Slights such as this are taken much more seriously in foreign lands than in the United States. A visit by the leader of the free world is a really Big Deal in other countries – even though lots of ’em hate us – and a sign of real importance and prestige. To have a U.S. president say, sorry, I’ve got something more important to do, like jawbone wavering Blue Dogs, is a humiliation.
The London Times reports today that Obama’s cancellations are further staggering Australia’s politically wobbly Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Australians and Indonesians can legitimately ask themselves if Obama would have canceled trips to Russia or China in order to focus on health care. Unlike China and Russia, Australia is our loyal and unwavering ally. And Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. These ain’t Lichtenstein and Palau we’re talking about here.
President Obama underscored his commitment to our close alliance with Australia and our deepening partnership with Indonesia.