New Boston Post | February 19, 2016
One piece of advice my father always gave me was this: Never miss a funeral or a wedding. “It’s important to show up at these things,” he said, “And you will never regret going.”
Apparently, this is not a lesson that was ever taught to Barack Obama. The White House announced Wednesday the president will not attend the Saturday funeral Mass for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly this past weekend.
According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the President and Mrs. Obama will “pay their respects to Justice Scalia” at the Supreme Court on Friday during the time he lies in repose in the Great Hall.
So, why wouldn’t Obama attend Scalia’s funeral?
Theories abound. Here are a few:
1. The president is uncomfortable attending a Catholic funeral Mass where he will be unable to receive communion, so he is instead sending Vice President and Mrs. Biden, who are Catholic. This theory at first seems silly. After all, President Obama had no problem attending Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral Mass in 2013. He even gave the eulogy. But that was before the president tried to force Catholic nuns to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees in violation of their faith. Could it be that even “The One We Have Been Waiting For” feels some shame?
2. The president does not want his security needs to disrupt the service. First of all, this theory assumes a level of humility and thoughtfulness that our president does not have. Moreover, it is simply silly to think that his appearance at the funeral would be any more distracting than George W. Bush’s attendance at the funeral of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s in 2005 (W gave the eulogy) or his own attendance at Kennedy’s funeral in 2013. Nevertheless, Earnest seemed to suggest this might be the reason when he noted, in response to a question about Obama’s plans not to attend, that the Vice President has a much smaller “security footprint.”
3. The president does not like attending funerals. Perhaps he regards them as a waste of his time? After all, when Margaret Thatcher passed away in 2013, he sent a low-level delegation that the Daily Signal referred to as “similar in size and scope to the delegation sent to the funeral of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.”
4. The Scalia family did not want the president to attend the funeral. There has been some speculation that perhaps the Scalia family requested that the divisive Obama not attend what is going to be a deeply religious service. But at a moment when members of the Scalia family are dealing with grief and loss and remembrance, would they actually take the time to send word to the White House asking the president not to come? I find that hard to believe.
5. The president would rather play golf. This is not a joke. When asked whether Obama’s Saturday schedule includes golfing, Earnest dodged the question, saying something about the importance of honoring Scalia’s life and legacy.
It is possible, of course, that Obama’s reasons for not attending Scalia’s funeral Mass include not one, but all of the above. Or perhaps the president is just a petty man who is unable to demonstrate public respect for people who see the world differently than he does.
Perhaps it is as simple as that.