Washington Prowler

Distancing Obama

White House nervous about Hasan. Also: Obama's Berlin wall.

By 11.9.09

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SECURITY CHECK
While it is true that alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, never served in an any role for the Obama Administration's transition team, the White House was concerned enough about Hasan's appearance on a list of attendees at a homeland security conference that it ran a check on Hasan before President Obama made impromptu remarks about the shooting last week.

"You hate to say it, but this is what it's come to," says a White House source. "It's part of making sure the President isn't burned."

Of course, that didn't stop the White House from giving Obama prep notes for his remarks about Fort Hood that included mention of the now infamous "Medal of Honor shout out" to Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, who was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom award three months ago by Obama.

BERLIN NO SHOW
During her visit to the United States last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's team made it clear to the White House that the German government was disappointed by the small U.S. delegation being sent to Berlin to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite attempts by Democrats to create the impression that European leaders have largely embraced Obama, Christian Democrat Merkel has been wary of Obama from the start, since his campaign worked so closely with the Social Democratic Party during the presidential campaign.

Early on, there had been discussions of Obama himself traveling for the ceremony, but White House officials nixed it, not only because it would be the same setting as that of his campaign appearance and major speech in July 2008, but because the tone and content of any remarks he delivered this time would be vastly different from the speech that President Ronald Reagan made back in 1987.

"A speech there would have been a huge moving target for us," says a State Department official familiar with the discussions earlier this year. "We knew about the missile defense decision, but knowing what we know now about things like the Afghan policy decision coming down the road, it would have been difficult to put him up there."

Instead, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will lead the delegation. The White House nixed sending Vice President Joe Biden.

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