Vice President Biden, who is in Rome to attend the installation mass of Pope Francis I, today told Italian President Giorgio Napolitano that President Obama is skipping the event because of his trip to Israel.
“The President sends his regards and the only reason he’s not here is he’s going to Israel,” Biden said.
Except, during the mass Tuesday morning, Obama will be in . . . Washington. He doesn’t depart for Israel until Tuesday evening U.S. time, which is well into Wednesday at the Vatican.
What’s more, Rome is on the way to Israel for Obama.
Obama has nothing going on Monday that couldn’t be rescheduled. He does meet with the Irish prime minister Tuesday, who is in the United States for the annual St. Patrick’s Day promotion of his island. And he’ll have a substantive chat with the leaders of Northern Ireland. But even Biden doesn’t cite this as a reason to ditch the Pope.
It seems perhaps the real reason is that Biden, who is Catholic, has far more interest witnessing the installation of a new Pope that President Obama, who is not.