President Barack Obama’s decision to skip Nancy Reagan’s funeral in California on Friday in favor of attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Texas is not the first time Obama has insulted the former First Lady.
On Nov. 7, 2008, at his very first press conference after winning the election, President-elect Obama cracked a nasty joke at Nancy Reagan’s expense, referring to stories that she consulted an astrologer in the White House.
Obama was answering a question from a journalist who had asked him whether he had spoken to any of his predecessors. Obama’s flippant, contemptuous response is recorded in the transcript of the event:
QUESTION: Thank you for asking. Here’s my question. I’m wondering what you’re doing to get ready. Have you spoke to any living ex-presidents, what books you might be reading?…
OBAMA: … In terms of speaking to former presidents, I have spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton — I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.
I have re-read some of Lincoln’s writings, who’s always an extraordinary inspiration.
And, by the way, President Carter, President Bush, Sr. , as well as the current president have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process.
Obama called Nancy Reagan to apologize later that day for what spokesperson Stephanie Cutter called a “careless and offhanded remark.” The two met later that year, at the signing of a bill commemorating Ronald Reagan.
Obama has regarded the Reagans with both loathing and admiration. He, like much of the left, regarded Reagan’s policies as a disaster for the welfare state they championed.
But in the 2008 campaign, Obama drew criticism from the left — and from then-rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) — for praising Reagan’s achievement in having “changed the trajectory of America” in a way that Bill Clinton and other, more compromising presidents had not done.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.