President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were coaxed from their table at a state dinner in Argentina on Wednesday night to dance the tango. And critics already furious that the president had attended a baseball game in Cuba following Tuesdayâ€™s deadly attacks in Brussels were unmoved.
â€œThat was a tremendous mistake,â€ Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on MSNBCâ€™s â€œMorning Joeâ€ on Thursday. â€œItâ€™s fine to go to Argentina, you want to do the work, but youâ€™ve got to be careful of these little photo ops and optics. Baseball games and tangos, thatâ€™s inconsistent with the seriousness of the day.â€
â€œObama attacks the dance floor,â€ the Drudge Report declared.
â€œFox and Friendsâ€ aired video of the presidentâ€™s dance moves along with the label â€œTango Over Terror.â€
â€œWhen everybody else is worried about where ISIS is, who they are going to kill next, and [if they] are going to come over here,â€ former Judge Andrew Napolitano said on the cable networkâ€™s morning show, â€œthe president shouldnâ€™t be in Argentina doing the tango.â€
Nicolle Wallace, former communications director for President George W. Bush, said Obamaâ€™s reluctance to alter his itinerary â€œputs him vastly â€¦ out of step with the entire American public, not just Republicans.
â€œHis policy choice was to proceed with everything on his schedule and not to react to the threat of terrorism,â€ Wallace said on MSNBC. â€œThere were mothers lying dead while their, you know, family members were at the crime scene yesterday, and to [make it] look like the priority is to go on a foreign trip instead of pausing for a minute and explaining that to America is a communications crime.â€
â€œAs long as theyâ€™re having a nice spring break,â€ conservative radio host Laura Ingraham snarked on Twitter, â€œthatâ€™s all that really matters.â€
Republican presidential hopefuls John Kasich and Ted Cruz had urged Obama to return to the United States or go to Brussels.
â€œPresident Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe or President Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels,â€ Cruz said on Tuesday. â€œWe donâ€™t need another lecture from Obama on Islamophobia.â€
Hours before Wednesdayâ€™s state dinner, Obama was asked why he did not cut his historic trip to Cuba and Argentina short in the wake of Tuesdayâ€™s bombings.
â€œItâ€™s very important for us not to respond with fear,â€ he said. â€œWe send a message to those who might be inspired by them to say, â€˜You are not going to change our values of liberty and openness and the respect of all people.â€™â€
Obama reiterated the remarks he made to ESPN during Tuesdayâ€™s game, when he said one of the proudest moments of his presidency was watching the city of Bostonâ€™s defiant response to the 2013 marathon bombings.
â€œThey taught America a lesson,â€ Obama said. â€œThey grieved â€” I was there for the memorial. We apprehended those who had carried this out. But a few days later, folks were out shopping. A few days later, people were in that baseball stadium and singing the national anthem.â€
The terrorist attack in Boston â€œwas not going to change the basic spirit of that city,â€ the president said.
â€œThat is how we are going to defeat these terrorist groups,â€ he said. â€œIn part because weâ€™re going after them, and taking strikes against them, and arresting them, and getting intelligence on them, and cooperating with other countries. But a lot of it is also going to be to say, â€˜You do not have power over us. We are strong. Our values are right. You offer nothing except death.â€™â€