A term filled with predictable calamities escalates quickly
President Obama addressed the nation Monday, five years after the 2008 financial crisis, to reflect on the nation’s recovery after the “worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.” He also commented on the situation in Syria and the Navy Yard shooting.
President Obama hoped to seize control of the news cycle Monday. Instead, events overtook him and his message again.
As reports broke of a deadly shooting rampage at the Navy Yard, three miles from the White House, the president was forced to alter his script. Over the past three weeks, his muddled response to reports of chemical weapons use in Syria has distracted the administration from looming fights with Congress over the budget and debt ceiling.
This time, Obama was forced to rewrite prepared remarks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he was set to talk about the five-year anniversary of the stock market collapse and frame the fiscal debates ahead.
“We still don’t know all the facts, but we do know that several people have been shot and some have been killed,” Obama said solemnly, a collection of small-business owners standing awkwardly behind him on stage.
They had been invited to the White House to serve as symbolic reminders of the impact of economic policy on ordinary Americans as the president launched a week of events intended as a pivot away from Syria.
Obama delayed his remarks for more than 45 minutes to avoid conflicting with a live news conference with D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who briefed reporters on the scene near the shootings in Southeast Washington. Then, after the president addressed the shootings, cable television networks abruptly cut away and returned to the breaking coverage of rampage.
Obama’s second term has been buffeted from the start by unpredictable calamities that have helped scuttle his priorities. In December, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, prompted the newly reelected president to focus on an unsuccessful attempt to pass gun-control legislation ahead of other priorities.