This coming Saturday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be laid to rest. Among those who will not be in attendance at his funeral is President Barack Obama.
Which is not to say Obama won’t do “the next best thing.” He and the missus will head over to the Supreme Court Friday to pay their last respects to Scalia, who is lying in repose there in the Great Hall.
Obama’s decision not to attend the funeral has drawn fire from the left as well as the right. His own former “car czar,” Steven Rattner, tweeted:
If we want to reduce partisanship, we can start by honoring great public servants who we disagree with https://t.co/f5FZGrMbcB
— Steven Rattner (@SteveRattner) February 17, 2016
The left-leaning Politico has risen to Obama’s defense, noting, “There’s not substantial historic precedent for presidents attending the funerals of sitting justices.” But in the very next breath, the authors turn around and write, “President George W. Bush not only attended, but also eulogized Supreme Court chief justice and fellow conservative William Rehnquist in 2005.”
But why does Obama need a precedent to do the right thing in any case? He had no hesitation about sending three White House aides to the funeral of Michael Brown and a similar “delegation” to the funeral of Freddie Gray.
At least Scalia’s in good company. Obama also skipped the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, not bothering even to send an official delegation to mark her passing. Even Hugo Chávez, a tyrant, received that distinction.
So, much as Politico might want to play down the partisan angle of critics of Obama’s decision, it certainly sound as though ideology is a guiding principle in which funerals to attend and which to snub.
One last thing: Scalia’s funeral falls on a Saturday. If history is any indication, Obama will likely be hitting the links. Not even the funeral of his own “beloved Aunt Zeituni” was enough to get him to skip a round of his even more beloved golf.
In fact, Earnest was asked whether he could “rule out” Obama’s golfing during the funeral. Here is the response: