Standing at a gas station pump, as news blared overhead about the Fort Hood shootings, a young mother with two children buckled into her sedan’s car seats sighed.
“I hope someday if, God forbid, tragedy strikes again at a military base, whoever is president doesn’t still head to a fundraiser,” she said.
She didn’t think that President Obama doesn’t care, she said. “It is just, come on, do the right thing!” The visual impact of Obama discussing the tragedy at a political fundraiser is “uncaring, arrogant, wrong,” she said, punctuating each adjective.
Impressions are lasting. Americans in general have a fairly good sense of what is right or wrong. Despite the blurred lines of news intersecting with opinion — and sometimes buffering a casual viewer from facts — Americans also have a pretty good sense of when some official is getting things right or wrong.
Attending two fundraisers on the night of a military base shooting can irritate many people. Celebratory champagne toasts, exotic hors d’oeuvres, well-heeled guests and hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing to elected officials. These are not the images you should wish to convey to Americans on such a night.