The PJ Tatler

Obama cancels big outdoor speech in Brazil

The First Family jetted off for Rio Thursday after the president gave his tepid remarks on Japan. Among his destinations were the beaches, and delivering a grand speech to the masses in a major city square in Rio. The beaches are presumably on the agenda, but the speech is off. Or, to be more precise, moved.

The speech in the historic plaza known as Cinelandia, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, “is cancelled,” an embassy spokeswoman told AFP.

Obama instead will deliver remarks at Rio’s Municipal Theatre, the official said, without specifying whether it would be open to the public or exclusively for invited guests.

No explanation for the change of venue was given by the embassy. Brazilian authorities have laid out a heavy security presence for Obama’s two-day visit to South America’s largest nation, and police in Rio had closed numerous streets from midnight Thursday in preparation.

That suggests that there was a security concern, but it was being taken care of as is typical for a US state visit to foreign soil. But there also seems to have been an optics concern.

Some social and union groups have declared Obama a “persona non grata” and called for a protest, accusing him of a “bellicose policy of occupation” in foreign countries, and of attacking people “in the name of the war on terror.”

This is curious. Obama’s minions have just been engaged in creating street noise and theater in Wisconsin to disrupt the democratic, and Democratic, process there. A major point in that effort has been to create negative optics for Gov. Walker and the Republicans. Now, is Obama moving a major speech to avoid bad optics for himself? If he is, he’s nothing more than a coward who, in the words we all learned in school, can dish it out but can’t take it.