Stewart Stogel is a veteran print/broadcast journalist whose work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, the Miami Herald, Washington Times, ABC News and NBC News. Major stories broken include the death of legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Iraq (Operation Desert Storm, 1991), and the failure of the U.S./UK military to find WMD in Iraq (March 2003).More ↓Less ↑
UNITED NATIONS – Barack Obama’s trip to NewYork City has taken yet another strange turn.
Late Monday, after his arrival in New York, the White House informed the United Nations that Obama, who had been expected to attend and co-host a VIP luncheon at
the U.N. this afternoon, would not show because of “campaign commitments.”
The lunch, an annual gathering during the opening day of the General Assembly’s general debate, is known for its uniquely casual atmosphere since security personnel or aides to the world leaders are not allowed.
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens all are treated as equals while the numerous entourages are kept at a distance.
It brought Reagan and Gorbachev together. In 2000, Bill Clinton was seen shaking hands with Fidel Castro, although in 1996, Clinton declined to attend lunch with world leaders and then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
This time, Obama will not be standing with Ban Ki-moon to jointly welcome the world leaders to New York City.
For more than 25 years, the president of the United States mostly has been a fixture at the U.N. affair.
The U.N. told WND that Obama had campaign “obligations” and so had the pass on the event.
But apparently not.
His first stop, the U.N. General Assembly at 10 a.m. Then, the official White House schedule has Obama speaking at Clinton Global Initiative’s closing session at the Sheraton New York Hotel at 12:10 p.m.
Obama is scheduled to head to Kennedy Airport at 1:25 p.m to board Air Force
One back to Washington, arriving at the White House at 2:35 p.m.
The rest of the day has nothing scheduled.
The U.N. lunch was listed for 1:15 p.m.
Obama did hold a private dinner for carefully selected VIPs at The Waldorf Astoria on Monday evening. Just who was invited and who actually came appears to be a state secret since the White House imposed a press blackout. No video, no photos, no pool, no nothing.
Ironically, Obama’s first stop in New York this week was to helicopter to midtown, then motorcade to visit with Barbara Walters and the ladies of “The View.”
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky had no comment. U.S.-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would not respond to inquiries.
But former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton quipped: “The U.S. paid 22 percent of the cost of the luncheon, and the president won’t even have a glass of ice tea with his colleagues?