Obama and First Lady to Attend Mandela Funeral--Skipped Thatcher Funeral Back In April
Are some funerals of certain former world leaders more important to attend than others? President Barack Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend former South African President Nelson Mandela's funeral service in the African nation, reports USA Today. :
Expect President Obama to confirm soon he will attend services in South African for the late Nelson Mandela.
Officials have held off on a formal announcement as travel plans, logistics, and security are worked out; services for Mandela will be part of a mourning period in South Africa that will last about 10 days.
The South African government has scheduled the state funeral for Dec. 15, a week from Sunday. There is also a memorial service scheduled for Dec. 10, which is Tuesday.
In the meantime, Obama has directed that American flags be lowered to half-staff through Monday in honor of the freedom fighter who died Thursday at age 95.
Interestingly, the Obamas did not got to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's funeral back in April of this year. In fact, no high ranking official from the administration was sent to the Iron's Lady's funeral, Politico reported:
President Barack Obama decision not to dispatch any high-ranking members of his administration to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday has peeved critics on both sides of the pond.
The White House tapped ex-Secretaries of State George Shultz and James A. Baker III to lead the American delegation, which also includes Barbara Stephenson, the charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in London, and Louis Susman, former U.S. ambassador to the U.K., according to The Associated Press.
Not good enough, say the British tabloids.
“[…Downing] Street is most angered by rejections from Obama, First Lady Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden. And none of the four surviving ex-US leaders — Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr — is coming either,” The Sun reported.
The report continued: “The response contrasts with glowing US tributes on the day Lady Thatcher died. A No 10 source said last night: ‘We are a little surprised by the White House’s reaction as we were expecting a high-profile attendance.’ The “snub” came ahead of the Boston marathon “bomb outrage.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden disputed the charge that the administration blew off the the funeral, tellingg Politico: “The two Secretaries of State who headed the U.S. delegation are testimony to Baroness Thatcher’s global stature and reputation and reflected the longstanding strength of the transatlantic relationship.” Hayden added, “As President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron noted last year, the bond between our countries is unique and essential – we count on each other, and the world counts on our alliance.”