After this week’s deadly terrorist attack in Brussels, Republicans are certain President Obama should go somewhere. They just aren’t sure where.
Ted Cruz, for example, declared at a press conference, “President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe, or President Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels.” The Texas senator didn’t have any specific rationale for such a challenge, probably because his rhetoric didn’t make a lot of sense. Whether or not the president cut short his overseas trip would have no bearing on Americans’ security, and the last thing Brussels needs right now is the added burden of preparing security precautions for an Obama visit.
But as TPM noted yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott (R) has an entirely different itinerary in mind for the president: what Obama really ought to do in the wake of terrorism in Brussels is go to … Florida.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) thinks the best way for President Barack Obama to address the concerns of Americans troubled by Tuesday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels is to head to the Sunshine State.“Not only do I believe that President Obama should immediately return to America, I am inviting him today to come to Florida and address the concerns of American tourists considering travel to Europe,” Scott said in a statement released Thursday.
I’ve read the governor’s press release a few times, trying to make sense of it, but I have no idea what Scott’s talking about. Apparently, the Florida Republican is worried about European tourism suffering in the aftermath of an attack, so Scott wants the president to visit Florida to reassure Americans who are considering trips across the Atlantic.
Perhaps the governor was searching for a new way to complain about Obama, and this was the best he could come up with?
Looking at this in the larger context, this week’s Republican reactions to the president’s itinerary were a reminder about the politics of appearances. After Brussels, Obama should fly back to DC! Why? Well, because it might look good. Wait, no, maybe Obama should fly to Brussels! Why? You know, for symbolic significance.
Actually, no, maybe Obama should fly to Florida! Why? Because evidently the state’s governor is suddenly an enthusiastic ally of European tourism boards.
Such thinking seems to have at least some effect on the broader political perceptions, as evidenced by a press conference in Argentina this week in which a reporter asked Obama about the “optics” of the president’s overseas visits following the Brussels attack.
At a certain point, however, how things “look” has to be less important than how things are.