The right-wing media have attacked President Obama for supposedly not focusing on crises in Japan and Libya by instead honoring women's history month, going golfing, and filling out NCAA tournament brackets. Yet, Obama has engaged on both issues by making numerous public addresses and ordering humanitarian relief efforts in Japan and the Middle East.
Right-Wing Express Criticism Of Obama For Making NCAA Picks, Playing Golf
Fox & Friends: “You Have To Wonder What The President Is Doing, Where He Could Possibly Focus.” During the March 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts utilized several segments to criticize Obama for filling out NCAA brackets. During the segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated: “You have to wonder what the president is doing, where could he possibly focus.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
Fox Nation: “Japan Melts, Libya Burns, Deficit Grows... And Obama Fills Out NCAA Bracket?” A March 15 headline on Fox Nation read: “Japan Melts, Libya Burns, Deficit Grows... And Obama Fills Out NCAA Bracket?” However, appearing on the site that same day were posts regarding remarks Obama had made about Japan, domestic gas prices and the conflict in Libya. Additionally, Fox Nation featured a post the same day regarding Speaker John Boehner's criticisms of Obama's involvement in national budget cuts. [Fox Nation, 3/15/11]
HotAir: “Anxious World Looks To White House And Wonders: Who's Obama Picking For The Final Four?” In a March 15 post to the conservative blog HotAir.com, Allahpundit wrote: “The president was again criticized for making NCAA tournament picks.” He added: “As for my own picks: I've got Qaddafi in the Libyan regional, radioactive steam over the containment vessels out east, and China over Duke in the final. At the buzzer.” [HotAir, 3/15/11]
Big Government: “Oh, Thank God: Obama Set To Reveal NCAA Picks.” A March 15 post to Andrew Breitbart's Big Government.com reported:
Japan is suffering from a natural disaster that threatens to turn into an existential crisis. Colonel Q-ball has unleashed a blistering assault on pro-democracy rebel forces. Large swaths of the Middle East are in turmoil. The federal government is bleeding red ink, with absolutely no end in site [sic]. The economy sucks and is getting battered by skyrocketing commodity prices and a volatile oil market. Near-record numbers of Americans are leaving the work force. If the world isn't quite on fire...it is at least approaching a slow burn.
But, what's all that against a little MARCH MADNESS!
Mike Allen's Playbook reveals that today, Barack Obama will take some time to fill out his bracket for the upcoming NCAA College Basketball tournament. The Commander-in-Chief's picks will be released tomorrow on ESPN.
As Glenn Reynolds would say, the country's in the very best of hands. [Big Government, 3/15/11]
Hannity Takes A Break From Japan Coverage To Bash Obama For Golfing, NCAA brackets. During the March 15 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity took a break from coverage on the disaster in Japan to bash President Obama. During the segment, Hannity said: "[O]n Saturday, hours after the quake struck, he went golfing. And later that evening, he attended a dinner with members of the mainstream Obama mania media, and today the president spent his afternoon filling out his NCAA brackets for ESPN. Sadly, none of this is a joke." Later in that segment, Hannity added, “I find his lack of engagement now, beyond troubling to me.” [Fox News' Hannity, 3/15/11]
Perino: Obama's Focus Is A “Moving Target,” “A Disturbing Flaw.” During the same Hannity segment, Fox News contributor Dana Perino stated: “His seeming passivity is either considered an admirable quality by some or a disturbing flaw by others. And what he decides to engage on versus not engage on, it's a moving target. It's impossible to tell what he actually wants to get across.” Perino went on to criticize the president further for “shoot[ing] hoops” and “play[ing] golf.” [Fox News' Hannity, 3/15/11]
The Blaze: Obama “Ignored” Japan, “Headed To The Golf Course.” A March 15 post to Glenn Beck's website The Blaze stated:
President Barack Obama's response to a number of unfolding crises -- including the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan -- have many puzzled.
On Saturday, Obama ignored the devastation in Japan and headed to the golf course. Instead of speaking about Japan, Libya's revolution, protests in Wisconsin or our country's own financial straits, the president used his Weekly Address to comment on equal pay for women.
As nuclear crisis continued to loom in Japan, President Obama welcomed ESPN to the White House Tuesday to tape his bracket picks for March Madness.
During his Tuesday evening Fox News broadcast, host Glenn Beck wondered: Why is Obama “ignoring earth-changing problems”? [The Blaze, 3/15/11]
Limbaugh Mocks Obama's Reaction To Japan, Takes Opportunity To Push Birtherism. During the March 14 edition of his Premiere Radio Networks' program, Rush Limbaugh mocked Obama's reaction to the Japanese quake and tsunami, by exclaiming, “He played golf!” Limbaugh later stated: “Maybe the birth certificate's in Osaka.” [Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/14/11]
Fox & Friends Point Out Obama's Work Agenda, Mock Obama For Plugging Aid To Japan During ESPN Appearance. During the March 16 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy and guest host Martha McCalum listed a number of items on President Obama's agenda in recent days. Commenting on an upcoming appearance on ESPN by President Obama in which Obama will present his NCAA bracket, Doocy reported that during the ESPN broadcast, Obama will encourage viewers to visit usaid.gov to help people in Japan. In response, referring to Obama's NCAA brackets from previous years, Doocy asked: “Why'd he do it last year, then?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
Déjà Vu: Fox & Friends Attacks Obama For Golfing After Japan Earthquake. During the March 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts attacked Obama for playing golf over the weekend “even though it was 48 degrees.” Perino added: “There's going to be plenty of time for President Obama to go golfing in his future, whether it's two years from now or six years from now.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 3/14/11]
Asman: Obama “Keeping His Eye On The Wrong Ball.” On America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman said, “There is a disaster in Japan, civil war in Libya, and a budget mess in D.C., and President Obama has been criticized for staying on the sidelines, going golfing a lot, and now he is being slammed for filling out his NCAA brackets,” adding that Obama is “keeping his eye on the wrong ball.” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 3/15/11]
Crowley: “The World Is Aflame! Go To Work!” On America's Nightly Scoreboard, panelist Monica Crowley said: “We're living in a media world. Perception is reality. He's always shooting hoops, he's having Terry Bradshaw nights at the White House, he's in Rio. The world is aflame! Go to work!” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 3/15/11]
Bolling: “Optics, Tone-Deaf, Or Just Plain Egomaniacal?” On Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling cited a list of current events, then asked: “So what should the leader of the free world be doing? Planning? Nope, not doing that. Strategizing? Uh-uh. The golfer-in-chief is working very, very hard on his golf game.” Bolling then asked: “Optics, tone-deaf, or just plain egomaniacal?” [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 3/15/11]
Right-Wing Media Decide: Now Is Not The Time To Honor Women's History Month
Obama: March Is “A Time Not Only To Celebrate The Progress That Women Have Made, But Also The Women Throughout Our History Who Have Made That Progress Possible.” In his March 12 weekly radio address, Obama noted that March was Women's History Month, saying:
March is Women's History Month, a time not only to celebrate the progress that women have made, but also the women throughout our history who have made that progress possible.
Women are still more likely to live in poverty in this country. In education, there are areas like math and engineering where women are vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts. This is especially troubling, for we know that to compete with nations around the world, these are the fields in which we need to harness the talents of all our people. That's how we'll win the future.
And, today, women still earn on average only about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. That's a huge discrepancy. And at a time when folks across this country are struggling to make ends meet - and many families are just trying to get by on one paycheck after a job loss - it's a reminder that achieving equal pay for equal work isn't just a women's issue. It's a family issue.
In one of my first acts as President, I signed a law so that women who've been discriminated against in their salaries could have their day in court to make it right. But there are steps we should take to prevent that from happening in the first place. That's why I was so disappointed when an important bill to give women more power to stop pay disparities - the Paycheck Fairness Act - was blocked by just two votes in the Senate. And that's why I'm going to keep up the fight to pass the reforms in that bill.
Achieving equality and opportunity for women isn't just important to me as President. It's something I care about deeply as the father of two daughters who wants to see his girls grow up in a world where there are no limits to what they can achieve. [President Obama's Weekly Radio Address, 3/12/11]
Beck: “How Much Valium” Would It Require To Celebrate Women's History Month Now. From Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
BECK: Then you have on Friday a tsunami. You have an earthquake. You have the beginning of a nuclear meltdown. You have a bond meltdown. You have the world on fire! And he goes into the Oval Office to give his radio address on, well, on making sure that we celebrate women's history.
BECK: How many, seriously, I mean this, how much Valium do you have to pump into my body to get me to go up to a microphone at this time, and go, are we really paying attention to Women's History Month, the way we should? How much - how much tranquilizer dart do you have to actually stab into my heart before I say, you know what, we should also have an Employee Fairness Act. You got to be kidding me! [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 3/16/11]
Kilmeade: Obama Speaking About “Women's Rights” Shows Lack Of “Urgency On The Issues That Are Shaping The Globe.” From Fox News' Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: He talks about bullying, and women's rights in the workplace, and No Child Left Behind being modernized and not to leave it twisting. Where is the urgency on the issues that are shaping the globe right now? It doesn't seem to be there. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
Red Eye's Gutfeld Calls Women's History Month One Of Obama's “Childish Distractions.” From Fox News' Red Eye:
GREG GUTFELD: While the world wrestles with sadness he finds joy in March Madness. So on Tuesday President Obama taped a segment for ESPN, announcing his picks for the NCAA, or n-ca tournament. With uprisings in the Mideast and catastrophe in Japan and critics say his priorities are screwy. But there is more, there's more-ers.
On Saturday Obama hade his 873rd outing to the golf course as president. On Friday he took time out to honor last year's Stanley cup's champion. He then celebrated Women's History Month on his radio show, and then, of course, he built the giant sandcastle. And then there was the ice sculpture he built for the Delaware beach ice sculpture contest. Check it out. And then on Monday he participated in a hot dog eating contest. I guess he is in the back there. He won handily.
Yeah, you can say it has been a busy week for Captain Perfect. I didn't even mention the bear wrestling, but I guess I just did. So should Obama leave behind these childish distractions as one blogger put it? Or is Commander Awesome allowed to have a life when there is so much strife? [Fox News, Red Eye, 3/16/11]
Bret Baier Slams Obama For Using Radio Address To Honor Women's History Month. From Fox News' Special Report:
BRET BAIER: And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine.
President Obama's weekend radio address was devoted entirely to Women's History Month and his push for gender equality.
Now it was believed it was taped earlier in the week, so there was no mention of Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Nor was there anything about Libya, skyrocketing oil prices, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, or the budget battle on Capitol Hill. [Fox News, Special Report, 3/14/11]
Obama Has Repeatedly Addressed Crisis In Libya And Discussed Humanitarian Relief Efforts
Politico: “Obama Has Been Immersed In Back-To-Back Meetings All Week On The Emerging Crises.” Politico reported on March 16:
Obama has been immersed in back-to-back meetings all week on the emerging crises, culminating with a Tuesday afternoon gathering of his national security team to discuss a dwindling set of options for Libya. [Politico, 3/16/11]
Obama: Gadhafi “Has Lost The Legitimacy To Lead And He Must Leave.” In a statement prior to a March 3 press conference, Obama condemned Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and stated that Gadhafi “has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave.” From Obama's remarks:
OBAMA: The United States, and the entire world, continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people. The United States is helping to lead an international effort to deter further violence, put in place unprecedented sanctions to hold the Qaddafi government accountable, and support the aspirations of the Libyan people.
Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: The violence must stop. Muammar Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave. Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable. And the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met. [Obama press conference, 3/3/11]
Obama Outlined U.S. Humanitarian Response To Crisis In Libya. Also during his March 3 press conference, Obama outlined the administration's response to the “urgent humanitarian needs that are developing.” From Obama's press conference:
OBAMA: We are also responding quickly to the urgent humanitarian needs that are developing. Tens of thousands of people
from many different countries
are fleeing Libya, and we commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for their response, even as they go through their own political transitions. I have, therefore, approved the use of U.S. military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt. I've authorized USAID to charter additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries find their way home, and we're supporting the efforts of international organizations to evacuate people as well.
I've also directed USAID to send humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border, so that they can work with the United Nations, NGOs and other international partners inside Libya to address the urgent needs of the Libyan people. [Obama press conference, 3/3/11]
Obama Ordered Economic Sanctions Against Libya, Including Freeze Of Gadhafi's Assets. As McClatchy reported on February 25, Obama “ordered that all the assets of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, his children and their wives be frozen in the United States, or in branches of U.S. banks.” From McClatchy:
Citing human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators in Libya, President Barack Obama late Friday ordered that all the assets of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, his children and their wives be frozen in the United States, or in branches of U.S. banks.
“I ... find that there is a serious risk that Libyan state assets will be misappropriated by Gadhafi, members of his government, members of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not protected, ” Obama said in the order.
And in a statement, Obama said: “By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi's government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable. These sanctions therefore target the Qaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.”
Included in the economic sanctions, which are designed thwart the movement of cash and other assets that might enrich the Gadhafi family, the president cited Gadhafi's four children and their spouses and children. Gaddafi's children, including one daughter and three sons, apparently draw personal incomes from Libya's state-owned oil companies.
Obama also vowed to work with the international community and the United Nations to coordinate these and other actions. [McClatchy, 2/25/11]
Obama Administration Working With U.N., NATO To “Increase Pressure On Gaddafi.” According to a White House summary of a March 15 national security meeting on Libya, Obama “instructed his team to continue to fully engage in the discussions at the United Nations, NATO and with partners and organizations in the region.” From the White House:
At today's meeting, the President and his national security team reviewed the situation in Libya and options to increase pressure on Gaddafi. In particular, the conversation focused on efforts at the United Nations and potential UN Security Council actions, as well as ongoing consultations with Arab and European partners.
The President instructed his team to continue to fully engage in the discussions at the United Nations, NATO and with partners and organizations in the region. [White House, 3/15/11]
Obama Has Addressed Crisis In Japan, Ordered Assistance With Rescue, Recovery Efforts
Obama Briefs Nation On Japan In Press Conference. During a March 11 press conference, President Obama's opening remarks addressed the situation in Japan as well as the intent by American forces to offer aid to those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. From the Press conference:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today.
First and foremost, our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan. This is a potentially catastrophic disaster and the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking. Japan is, of course, one of our strongest and closest allies, and this morning I spoke with Prime Minister Kan. On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.
We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan, and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed.
I already told Prime Minister Kan that we will provide whatever assistance that they need. My understanding is that the main assistance that we're going to be able to provide them is *lift capacity, the ability for us to I think help in the cleanup. [The White House, 3/11/11]
Obama To Meet With USAID Director To Discuss Global Humanitarian Aid. Politico reported on March 16 that Obama was scheduled to meet with USAID administrator Rah Shah to “discuss humanitarian help around the globe,” including for Japan and the Middle East. From Politico:
President Obama is summoning his administrator of USAID, Raj Shah, to the Oval Office on Wednesday so they can discuss humanitarian help around the globe. The White House says Obama and Shah plan to discuss aid efforts for Japan, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Haiti. [Politico, 3/16/11]
US Navy Has 8 Ships Near Japan, Five More En Route. According to a March 14 Yahoo news article, eight ships, including the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan were assisting with rescue and recovery operations in Japan. Additionally, five others have been deployed according to the Pentagon. [Yahoo, 3/14/11]
White House Releases “Overview Of United States' Response In Support Of Our Friends In Japan.” A March 13 post to the White House blog contained a list of ongoing efforts by the White House to provide aid to Japan in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunami. From the blog:
As directed by the President, we have offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed as America will stand with Japan as they recover and rebuild.
We have already been helping in a number of ways. USAID is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese government's response to the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami that hit Friday and are currently directing individuals to www.usaid.gov for information about response donations. The U.S. Ambassador declared an emergency which opened up an immediate funding of $100K from USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. They set up a Response Management Team in DC and sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Tokyo, which includes people with nuclear expertise from the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services as well the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC members are experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and are available to assist their Japanese counterparts. Two Urban Search and Rescue Teams (LA County and Fairfax County teams) which total 144 members plus 12 search and rescue canines and up to 45 metric tons of rescue equipment are also on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin searching at first light March 14. The Department of Defense has the USS Reagan on station off the coast of Japan and the USS Essex en route, and is currently using an air facility in Misawa as a forward operating base. The American Red Cross (ARC) International Services team is supporting the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) to assess the impact, determine response efforts, and assist the people of Japan.
Officials from the Department of Energy, NRC, and other agencies have maintained contact with Japanese officials and will provide whatever assistance the Japanese government requests as they work to stabilize their damaged nuclear reactors. United States citizens in Japan are encouraged to follow the protective measures recommended by the Japanese government. The NRC has announced that these measures appear to be consistent with steps the United States would take. With regards to the United States, the NRC has released information stating that Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity. For instance, according to the NRC, the U.S. evacuation standard at 10 miles is roughly equivalent to the 20-kilometer distance recommended in Japan. The United States and Japan both have highly advanced capabilities for monitoring and predicting the path of any radioactive release. American citizens in Japan should continue to listen to the local authorities regarding evacuation notices and any other preparedness measures and should contact the State Department if they have any questions. [The White House, 3/13/11]
Obama Uses March Madness To Urge Fans To Donate To Japan. A March 16 Bloomberg article stated:
President Barack Obama urged basketball fans to take a break from filling out brackets predicting college basketball tournament winners to visit the U.S. Agency for International Development's website and consider making a donation “to help the people who have been devastated in Japan.”
“Go to usaid.gov and that's going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute,” Obama said during an interview for broadcast later today on ESPN, where he reveals his own choices for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's basketball championship, an event promoted as March Madness. “I think that would be a great gesture as you're filling out your brackets.”
“This is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it,” Obama said of the college basketball tournament. “But while you're doing it, if you're on your laptop,” consider making a contribution, Obama said. [Bloomberg, 3/16/11]
Obama Assures Americans Japan Radiation Will Not Reach Us. During an appearance on a Pittsburgh news program, President Obama assured audiences that nuclear release from Japan will dissipate by the time it gets to Hawaii, much less the continental United States. Additionally, the president stated that the United States is providing Japan with “all the support we can,” and stated that he was “deeply worried about radiation effects in Japan.” [USA Today, 3/15/11]
Obama's Day For March 16: Aid Abroad. In a March 16 USA Today rundown of the president's schedule for the day, nearly all of his appointments and engagements had to do with foreign aid and relief, including tasks involving Libya, Mexico, Japan, Bahrain, Haiti, Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. [USA Today, 3/16/11]