As Pennsylvania gears up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on Tuesday, one prominent Abraham Lincoln fan won't be in attendance: President Barack Obama.And who's the first critic assailing Obama? The Trib's own Selena Zito:
The National Park Service announced a few weeks ago the President won't be part of the activities commemorating the historic speech, and critics have since assailed Obama for skipping the event.
"It would be an occasion for him to honor a crucial time in our past, to create a historical bridge to today," Salena Zito, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer, wrote in a column.Missing, of course, from Zito's column is any sort of historical context - an omission also found in some of the regular news coverage of the event at the Trib. Here's Mike Wereschagin:
"His dismissal of the request shows a man so detached from the duty of history, from the men who served in the White House before him, that it is unspeakable in its audacity," Zito added. "Ask almost any person in this historic town; even his most ardent supporters here are stunned." [Emphasis added.]
Several of the new citizens said they'd been told President Obama would attend the ceremony. Instead, a National Park Ranger read a brief speech from the president and a message he recorded for the 16 new citizens was played.And what was this omission of context? Take a look:
Obama's decision not to appear “made him look bad,” said Mike Wood, 39, of Chesterfield, Mich. He should have come “just to show his respect,” said Wood, a re-enactor with the 7th Michigan Cavalry and author of the nonfiction Civil War book “Tuebor.”
But Obama's decision not to attend the Gettysburg commemoration ceremony is typical for a sitting president. President Reagan did not attend the 125th commemoration of the Gettysburg Address - in fact, Reagan never visited Gettysburg during his tenure in office. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also never visited the battlefield as president, and President George W. Bush toured the site in 2008, but did not speak or attend a commemoration ceremony. In fact, according to Hanover, Pennsylvania's local paper, The Evening Sun, William Howard Taft was the only sitting president to ever visit the site on the anniversary of the Gettysburg AddressThat's right - Ronald Wilson Reagan never visited Gettysburg during his entire tenure in office and didn't attend the 125th commemoration of the speech.
Can we get that Civil War re-enactor declare that it made Reagan "look bad" by not showing? Or how it shows Reagan's disrespect? Can we get Selena Zito to go on record saying that Reagan's unspeakably audacious failure to attend the 125th commemoration shows his detachment from the duty of history, from the men who served in the White House before him?
Yea, I didn't think so either.