Barack Obama’s immediate response to the Navy Yard massacre followed a pattern for a president who at crucial moments seems unable to abandon politics and embrace his role as empathizer-in-chief.
Monday morning, as the country was first learning about the shootings at the Naval Seas Systems Command headquarters in Washington D.C., Obama delivered scheduled remarks on the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis.
Obama began with two minutes about the shootings, lauding the military and asking people to pray for the deceased.
But then he quickly pivoted to politics. He rebuked Republicans for everything from the sequester and Obamacare to the debt ceiling. He accused Republicans of wanting “economic chaos” and even took a cheap shot at Mitt Romney.
All this happened as the massacre was still unfolding just blocks from where Obama was speaking. In fact, as the president gave his remarks, the police suspected that multiple shooters were still at large.
On Monday evening, as the death toll continued to mount, Obama was scheduled to join his family for a Latin music concert at the White House.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time Obama has failed to put politics aside during times of national tragedy.
Obama did something similar in November 2009 after Nidal Malik Hasan went on a rampage at Fort Hood military base that left 14 innocent people dead and scores wounded.
Before even acknowledging the massacre, Obama opened remarks at an Interior Department event for the Tribal Nations Conference with a series of light-hearted “shout outs” to audience members. Even some Obama supporters criticized the president for his tone-deaf response.
There have been numerous other examples. The day after the massacre in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed in part because of Obama Administration incompetence, Obama jetted off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser with well-heeled gay rights activists.