Right-wing commentators ripped President Obama for dancing the tango at a state dinner in Argentina a day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, criticizing him for “dancing the night away” “while Brussels burns.” Meanwhile, journalists and analysists slammed conservative media figures' “easy attacks,” noting that right-wing media would have criticized Obama “either way,” regardless of whether he continued on or cut his trip short following the Brussels attacks.
President Obama Attends State Dinner In Buenos Aires, Argentina
President Obama Dances At Argentine State Dinner In Buenos Aires. The Associated Press reported on March 23 that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama “were pulled abruptly onto the dance floor by a pair of tango dancers” while “attending a state dinner” in Argentina. The dinner, the report states, is part of a diplomatic trip that is the first time in “nearly 20 years” that “a U.S. president has made a formal state visit to Argentina”:
The president and first lady Michelle Obama were attending a state dinner in the Argentine capital Wednesday evening when they were pulled abruptly onto the dance floor on by a pair of tango dancers hired to provide the entertainment.
At first, the woman in the shimmering gold dress seemed to content to twirl with her partner, but then she made a beeline for the president and beckoned him to the floor.
“No, no,” Obama's face seemed to say, as he declined her invitation not once but multiple times. But the dancer wasn't to be deterred.
The unexpected moment came at the end of a candlelit state dinner that Argentine President Mauricio Macri hosted for the Obamas. It has been nearly 20 years since a U.S. president has made a formal state visit to Argentina. [The Associated Press, 3/23/16]
Right-Wing Media Blast Obama For Dancing The Tango A Day After Brussels Attacks
Morning Joe Guest Host: Obama Committed A “Communications Crime” With Tango Visual In Argentina. On the March 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haas called the images “inconsistent with the seriousness of the day,” and guest host Nicole Wallace said the choices Obama “makes at a moment of crisis” have put “him vastly out of step with the entire American public”:
RICHARD HAAS: The advance person who let him do the tango, that person ought to be looking for work on somebody's -- in somebody's campaign very, very far away. That was a tremendous mistake. It's fine to go to Argentina, you want to do the work, but you've to be careful of these little photo ops for optics, baseball games and tangos, that's inconsistent with the seriousness of the day.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (HOST): So the baseball game, and Nicole you can chime in too, the baseball game had symbolism, Willie, did it not? It was all -- it wasn't he was going to catch a game. There was a plan there, international symbolism. But I still think -- his sleeves are rolled up, he had shades on, he was doing ESPN interviews. It felt really strange to me.
NICOLE WALLACE (GUEST HOST): I think Michael Hayden offered the best explanation for it. These were not advance staff gaffes. It's so easy to blame the staff. That's not what this was. This was Obama's policy choice. His policy choice was to proceed with everything on his schedule and not to react to the threat of terrorism, and that is his prerogative, but it puts him vastly -- let me just finish -- puts him vastly out of step with the entire American public, not just Republicans. You heard Democrats yesterday increasingly uncomfortable with the choices he makes at a moment of crisis. There were mothers laying dead while their family members were at the crime scene yesterday and to look like the priority is to go on a foreign trip instead of pausing for a minute and explaining that to America is a communications crime. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 3/24/16]
Fox Business' Varney: “President Obama Dancing The Night Away While Europe Mourns Its Dead.” On the March 24 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney called the the visual of Obama dancing in Buenos Aires “another jarring image,” saying that it “is not going to go down well”:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Another jarring image of President Obama dancing the night away while Europe mourns its dead. Good morning, everyone. This is not going to go down well. Four Americans still missing in Brussels, nine Americans wounded, Europe shellshocked and the president dances the tango in Buenos Aires. [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 3/24/16]
Fox's Napolitano: Instead Of Dancing, “Perhaps” Obama “Should Be Giving A Different Impression Of Strength And Preservation Of Freedom.” During a March 24 appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends, contributor Andrew Napolitano asked if dancing the tango “is the impression” Obama “wants to convey ... when everybody else is worried about where ISIS is, who they're going to kill next, and are they going to come over here”:
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: At a time when we have a crisis, is that the impression that he wants to convey? He's a great dancer and maybe he didn't want to change his plans. But I'm not so sure he should be doing that when everybody else is worried about where ISIS is, who they're going to kill next, and are they going to come over here. Perhaps he should be giving a different impression of strength and preservation of freedom and safety. [Fox News Channel, Fox & Friends, 3/24/16]
Ana Navarro: Dancing The Tango Was “A Shameful, Shameful, Disappointing Moment For President Obama.” On a March 23 appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Republican strategist Ana Navarro lambasted Obama for choosing “legacy over optics” in a “horrible” decision to dance with Argentinian locals at a state dinner:
JOHN BERMAN (GUEST HOST): Ana, I have to give you the last word. 15 seconds or less. The president dancing the tango. Your thoughts?
ANA NAVARRO: I think the entire thing is horrible. It reminded me of when he went golfing right after James Foley's head was cut off. Look, I think it is inexcusable thatwhen the entire world is standing in solidarity with Brussels, is in shock, is in grief, the president of the United States is in Cuba sitting next to a dictator who has been in power for 56 years, who has ordered the shootdown of American citizens, who has been anti-American for 56 years, eating peanuts and going to the baseball game like if he was Walt Disney. It's not Walt Disney and it is a day of grief for the entire world. I think President Obama knows full well that optics matter, but he chose his legacy over optics. And I think it was a shameful, shameful, disappointing moment for President Obama. I was disappointed. I was not surprised. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 3/23/16]
Gateway Pundit: “Obama Dances The Tango In Argentina As The World Burns.” On March 24, Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit claimed that Obama's dancing showed “he certainly doesn't seem to give a damn about America's national security”:
After enjoying baseball in Cuba, President Obama headed to Argentina where he danced the tango with locals.
Americans were killed in the Brussels terror attack but our president doesn't seem to have a care in the world.
At this point, it seems like Obama is just enjoying the time he has left as president.
He certainly doesn't seem to give a damn about America's national security. [The Gateway Pundit, 3/24/16]
Fox Business' Charles Gasparino: “At Least” Obama “Got Something Accomplished This Week.”
-- Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) March 24, 2016
Radio Host Mark Levin: “Dancing While Brussels Burns.”
Dancing while Brussels burns https://t.co/u7r4PCihoj
-- Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) March 24, 2016
Fox Contributor Marc Thiessen: “Brussels Under Attack. Obama Doing The Tango In Buenos Aires. Good God.”
Brussels under attack. Obama doing the tango in Buenos Aries. Good God. https://t.co/cpqkNa1rpO
-- Marc Thiessen (@marcthiessen) March 24, 2016
WND's Jerome Corsi: “Muslim-Supporting #Obama Does Tango In Argentina While Brussels Burns.”
-- Jerome Corsi (@jerome_corsi) March 24, 2016
Journalists And Analysts Criticize Conservative Pundits For Politicizing Obama's Tango
On CNN, Peter Beinart Says Republicans Are Criticizing Obama's Dancing Because They “Can't Stand” Him" And “Don't Like The Fact He Went To Cuba.” During the March 24 edition of CNN's New Day, commentator Peter Beinart called the criticism of Obama dancing the tango “easy attacks” and noted that “under Barack Obama's presidency, the scale of terrorist attacks ... in the United States has been fairly small”:
JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): We have some video of what President Obama was doing last night in the wake of Brussels. He was in Argentina, as you can see right here, dancing the tango. He was invited to dance, more like forced to dance, and he didn't dance badly, but, Peter Beinart, the question is one of optics. He went to a baseball game in Cuba the other day, he defended those actions, dancing the tango last night in Argentina. I'm sure he would defend these actions, too.
PETER BEINART: Sure, I mean, he'll get slammed for this --
BERMAN: He is getting slammed.
BEINART: He is getting this -- right. It's an easy attack for Republicans. I think the question is, what exactly do they want Barack Obama to do differently?
BERMAN: Well, they said he should come back to the United States, some have. They said he should at least not go to the baseball game in Cuba.
BEINART: But, let's be honest. They didn't want him to go to Cuba because they don't want -- like the opening to Cuba. What was he going to do differently once he came to the United States? This was an attack in Belgium. The United States has actually been, under Barack Obama's presidency, the scale of terrorist attacks, thank God, in the United States has been fairly small, both compared to Europe and compared to 9/11 or under his predecessors. So, these seem to be easy shots for a Republican primary electorate that can't stand Barack Obama and don't like the fact he went to Cuba in the first place. [CNN, New Day, 3/24/16]
On Fox, Roll Call Editor-In-Chief: Obama “Would Have Been Criticized Either Way,” Regardless Of His Response. On a March 24 appearance on Fox News' Happening Now, Roll Call Editor-in-Chief Melinda Henneberger said that though Obama has received criticism for continuing his trip in the wake of the Brussels attacks, “he would have also been criticized as weak... [and] totally reactive” if he had “cut the trip short.” She said his critics would say the president “lets ISIS push him around” by canceling pre-planned trips when they attack:
ABBY HUNTSMAN (GUEST HOST): Melinda, quickly, what is the right response here? Because you don't want to respond in a panic, in reaction to an attack like this. But you also want to show as president of the United States that you are there for the American people. The most important part of your job as president is to protect us.
MELINDA HENNEBERGER: I think he would have been criticized either way. I think had he cut the trip short or just kind of changed the entire agenda of the trip, he would have also been criticized as weak -- Oh look at him, he's in a totally reactive mode. He doesn't know what he wants to do. He lets ISIS push him around. So I don't know that there ever would have been a right response, but I understand what he's attempting to do in sort of projecting that life goes on. [Fox News Channel, Happening Now, 3/24/16]