Why Obama Is Avoiding the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address


Update: 11/19/13: A White House advisor tweeted out today that Mr. Obama missed the festivities because he has to fix the website. Nowhere on the calendar was there even one meeting scheduled about the site in question, healthcare. gov.


Mr. Obama will not attend the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address because he is speaking at the annual meeting of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, D.C.  He also has a meeting with Chuck Hagel. That’s the reason apparently. No other reason has been given. One might speculate that Mr. Obama simply has no interest in Gettysburg.

It is 150 years since Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery and gave one of the greatest speeches in US history. Gettysburg was the turning point in the war against slavery.

President Obama, the first black president and an admirer of President Lincoln, will not attend the celebration at Gettysburg. In his place, the White House is sending little known Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who started her Cabinet position just this year.

At the October 31st press briefing, Jay Carney was asked about it:

Q    Thanks, Jay.  National Parks Service has a press release out about the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address being held next month in Gettysburg, and they said that the President will not attend.  Why not?

MR. CARNEY:  I have not had that scheduling meeting, Dave, I confess.  I think that is an enormously significant event in our history, and I think Americans will take the appropriate time to consider it, consider the speech that was delivered there.  But beyond that, I don’t have any updates on the President’s schedule.

Q    Wouldn’t it be a natural fit for the President to go?

MR. CARNEY:  I would simply say that I have no updates on the President’s schedule.  And I think all Americans will share and marvel in the remembrance of that important date in our history and in the marvel that is that address.

Historians and caretakers of Gettysburg are incredibly disappointed.

President Obama is frequently likened to Abraham Lincoln by his adoring media.

While in Iowa in 2011, he referred to Lincoln while complaining about people talking negatively about him: “But when you listen to what the Federalists said about the anti-Federalists and the names that Jefferson called Hamilton and back and forth — I mean, those guys were tough. Lincoln, they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me.”

After serving for less than three years, and having accomplished nothing, he told a 60 minutes interviewer that he is the best President on legislation and foreign policy accomplishments with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln. (That would be “possible exceptions”)

That means he thinks he is better than Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, TR, Truman, Reagan, et al.

This is the exact quote:

“The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And we’re gonna keep on at it,” President Obama told “60 Minutes” in their “Overtime” segment.

This comment didn’t air.

During the recent shutdown of 17% of the US government, he closed off the open air Lincoln Memorial. He put more guards on it than he would have if there wasn’t a shutdown. He did it to make a political point.


 Guard standing outside the Lincoln Memorial during the recent government shutdown

I would speculate that Mr. Obama doesn’t have as much regard for our history, our memorials, or our heritage as he would have us believe.