Obama sticks to his schedule – except for late night TV appearances

The White House has canceled the president's scheduled appearance on the late-night television show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that there are "more serious" international issues to address. (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES - Over the past few weeks, President Obama has consistently done one thing in the wake of crises including the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet in Ukraine: He has stuck to his schedule, even if it includes beer drinking, burger eating and fundraising. But ahead of a trip here, the potential for the juxtaposition of the president yukking it up on late-night television as tensions flare around the world has proven too risky for the White House. The White House said that Obama will not appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" this week after reports surfaced that the president would be a guest while in Los Angeles this week. The trip is part of a West Coast fundraising swing through Seattle and Silicon Valley that will end here with more fundraisers and a public event at a technical college. "We had been in touch with representatives of Mr. Kimmel’s show about the possibility of participating – about having the president participate in that program on this trip," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. "We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip, and that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president’s dealing with in the international scene." It is the latest image issue for a White House that has been roundly criticized of late for events and unscheduled stops that allowed Obama to drink beer and shoot pool in Denver and amid the backdrop of a growing crisis on the Southwest border, eat burgers in Wilmington, Del., as news broke of the Malaysian Airlines plane, which had 298 people on board when it was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile in an area of Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists, profess that he "loses my mind" in the face of chips and guacamole minutes after delivering a statement about Gaza and golf in the California desert in June as Islamist militants were making gains in Iraq. Some of the stops were part of the White House's recent move to have Obama get out of Washington and meet with people who write him letters about their lives. Obama has been increasingly restless lately and has tried to break the White House bubble by getting out (by now we all know his "bear is loose" act).


Obama plays a game of pool at a pub in Denver on July 8. (AFP /Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

In Texas, Obama met at the Dallas airport with Gov. Rick Perry and local leaders and members of the faith community to discuss the border crisis; he then headed to a fundraiser. Obama brushed off criticism that he didn't visit the border, saying he is "not interested" in photo ops. "When the President travels, he travels with an array of staff and advisers and communications equipment that allows him to do his job from wherever he happens to be," Earnest said Monday. "And if it becomes clear that there’s a need for him to come back to the White House in order to fulfill those functions, then we’ll make a change in his schedule. Right now it’s not apparent that that’s the case." It was apparently the case that the appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, might be construed as a step too far as the bodies of the victims of the plane crash arrived by train in an eastern Ukraine city and the Israeli offensive against Hamas intensified. Tuesday the FAA banned U.S. airliners from flying into and out of Tel Aviv for at least 24 hours after a rocket landed near Israel's largest airport.  For now, the only question Kimmel, who hosted the 2012 White House Correspondents Dinner, will be able to ask about the West Wing is of rapper Snoop Dogg, who told to the comedian this week that he smoked marijuana in the White House bathroom. Obama has also been criticized for raising money while on the road as crises flared. That is one aspect of the trip that is not changing - Obama's stops before he lands here Wednesday are all scheduled fundraisers - two in Seattle and one in Silicon Valley.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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