President Obama will speak in front of the U.N. National Assembly in New York Tuesday morning where he is expected to address the protests and violence in the Middle East which led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
However, criticism of the president’s lack of meetings—actually zero scheduled one-on-ones—with foreign leaders following the U.N. meeting has taken center stage ahead of the president’s address.
White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the president Monday in a press briefing saying that he has a “busy schedule,” and already regularly meets with foreign dignitaries on a regular basis. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton reportedly met with the presidents of Libya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, he taped an interview with women’s talk show The View while in New York, seeming to play into the narrative of the “celebrity” president that Republicans have constructed for Obama based on his popularity with the Hollywood set.
Obama’s timing is inopportune, critics argue, given the diplomatic crisis coming to head between Israel and Iran, ongoing violence in Syria, and a period of instability in the region following the Arab Spring. Just two weeks ago the White House struggled to contain a flap over a supposed snub by the president of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had recently ratcheted up his rhetoric on Iran.
“No time for Netanyahu but time for The View,” quipped Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe Tuesday.
While the Morning Joe panel, including presidential biographer Jon Meacham, agreed that President Obama is "not a weak" on foreign policy, they critiqued his ability to form strong personal relationships with foreign leaders.
The headlines, from USA Today to CBS hit the president on his lack of UN meetings: "Obama UN bilateral meetings: From 13 to zero" and "For Obama, diplomacy gets back seat to campaign."