Over Memorial Day weekend, the weekly addresses from President Obama and congressional Republicans were deliberately apolitical, with the president giving thanks to fallen U.S. troops and their families, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) speaking from his home state on last week’s deadly tornado.
And when I watched the Republican clip over the weekend, it seemed pretty straightforward. Inhofe talked about the various agencies at the federal, state, and local level tending to the needs of affected communities. “Oklahoma has been hit hard, but we’re not knocked out,” the senator said, adding, “I can speak for all Oklahoma today when I thank you for your continued thoughts, your prayers, your support as we begin the recovery process. Oklahoma is grieving and in pain, but the devastation such as this tends to bring us closer together as a country.”
I didn’t notice the omission of the president from Inhofe’s remarks, but apparently that was a deliberate decision.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said on Monday that he didn’t mention President Barack Obama’s name in his rebuttal to Obama’s weekly presidential address about the Oklahoma tornadoes so that the White House couldn’t “pull a Chris Christie” on him.
“I was not going to let the White House pull a Chris Christie on me,” Inhofe told Newsmax.
As it happens, if Inhofe hadn’t addressed this at all, no one would have given this another thought. It’s not as if omission from his YouTube video was noticeable and there was chatter about the senator leaving the president out. No one cared.
But Inhofe felt compelled to tell a right-wing website what he was thinking – while the senator was talking about a tragedy bring Americans “closer together as a country,” he also ensured that his comments excluded President Obama so no one could characterize the response to the disaster as bipartisan.
Even by 2013 standards, this is unusually petty and small.
Twenty four Oklahomans were killed, and James Inhofe is worried about mentioning the president and letting “the White House pull a Chris Christie” on him? This was foremost on his mind during his comments to the nation?
There’s just no need to be this obsessed with partisan advantage. Neither the tornado nor its victims had anything to do with politics or political messaging.