Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Where the preznit ain't

Dan Froomkin

Here's a problem with following the president around all day long: Sometimes the story is where he's not.

Reporting that President Bush steered clear of the White House's own Conference on Aging yesterday -- making him the first president ever to do so -- fell to the regional newspapers and NPR, not the big guys.

It turns out that had Bush attended, he would have been facing a very hostile audience.

So instead, Bush held a photo-op with a hand-picked group of seniors at a swanky retirement home -- and it was well covered by the usual suspects.


Susan Jaffe writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Robert Binstock, professor of aging, health and society at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said President Bush's absence was a snub. It didn't help matters that Bush made time Tuesday to visit a retirement community in a Washington suburb.

" 'That he went to speak about Medicare in Virginia today, instead of an assembly of delegates from all over the country indicates that he's afraid to speak in anything but a controlled environment,' Binstock said during a session on improving the Medicare program, which provides health care for 43 million older and disabled Americans.

"Also this year, the rules have changed for delegates, so they cannot debate resolutions.

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