Kind of. The president will still travel to Indonesia and Brunei on Saturday as planned, but will reportedly be cutting two of his foreign trips short: He will not be traveling to the Philippines or Malaysia, according to the White House. But don't weep yet, America. Why? Because Team Obama is sending Secretary Kerry in his stead. Problem solved?
President Barack Obama is canceling part of his planned trip to Asia this weekend because of the government shutdown, the White House announced on Wednesday.
Obama called the presidents of the Philippines and Malaysia on Tuesday night to let them know he would not be visiting as planned, according to a readout from the White House.
Secretary of State John Kerry will travel in Obama’s place.
Obama is planning to leave Saturday night for what was supposed to be a four-country trip, the White House said, but will travel only to Indonesia and Brunei now after calling off the final two stops.
The president is set to participate in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders meeting in Indonesia and the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit in Brunei. He will also meet with the nations’ leaders.
It seems to me the government shutdown is entirely responsible for the White House’s last minute change in plans:
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the government shutdown made the Philippines and Malaysia stops impossible, and unlike the summits, they can be rescheduled.
“Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shut-down. Because they are on the back end of the President’s upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning,” Hayden said in a statement.
And who, might I ask, is responsible for harming U.S. diplomatic efforts aboard? Why, House Republicans, of course!
The administration continued to attack House Republicans, blaming them for the shutdown and saying it threatened national security and the economy.
“This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to promote U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership in the largest emerging region in the world. A faction of House Republicans are doing whatever they can to deny America from carrying out our exceptional role in the world,” Hayden said.
Funny. If money is so tight because the government shut down (as the White House claims), why on earth is the United States even bothering to send John Kerry abroad in the first place? It's a good question, no? Shouldn’t the U.S. government just cancel both -- or dare I say, all -- diplomatic visits for the time being if the shutdown is really that painful? I mean, Secretary Kerry would presumably require as big a security detail (and as large an entourage) as any sitting U.S. president traveling abroad, wouldn't he? He is, after all, America’s top foreign diplomat.
So if President Obama is “cancelling” these trips to “raise awareness” about the negative consequences of shutting down the government (and using the occasion to happily blame House Republicans for letting that happen), sending his top lieutenant instead of himself (and not cancelling any of the trips) hardly seems like an effective strategy. Remember, Mr. President, these kinds of politic stunts tend to backfire.