The White House released a statement late Thursday night — it went out at 11:59 p.m. — saying President Obama will not be going to Indonesia and Australia this month as planned. The statement gives no reason for the president’s decision, but it is obviously the result of the ongoing oil leak crisis in the Gulf of Mexio.
This is the second time Obama has backed out of the trip. It was originally scheduled for March, but it ended up coinciding with the final Democratic push to pass the national health care bill. Democratic leaders in Congress urged Obama to stay in Washington to finish the job, and Obama put off his travels.
One reason the trip was cancelled then, and now, is that there was no real reason for it. It was never going to be a trip to a pre-planned event, like a summit, and as originally planned, it had a personal element to it, with Obama planning to show his family where he grew up in Indonesia. So when something more pressing happened, whether in partisan politics or a natural disaster, the trip was expendable.
And it had to be expendable. The White House knew it could not argue that the trip could be postponed for health care reform but had to go on during the oil crisis — there was no way that was going to fly. So the trip is off. Here is the White House statement, released late Thursday:
President Obama spoke tonight with Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, and with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia. President Obama expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip to Asia that was scheduled for later this month. The President looked forward to rescheduling so that he can visit both countries soon.
President Obama underscored his commitment to our close alliance with Australia and our deepening partnership with Indonesia. He plans to hold full bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Rudd and President Yudhoyono on the margins of the G-20 meeting in Canada.