The optics of paying his respects to Scalia are tricky for Obama, who would have been the subject of constant cutaways to his reactions and interactions with members of Congress during the funeral, distracting from memorials for the giant of American legal thought.Now, that's a quite reasonable criticism of how the partisan media might cover the funeral of a truly great man should their "lightbringer" deign to appear at it.
"Look at the crease in his pants!" "I had a thrill run up my leg!"
But even that drivel isn't the point being made. Politico wants to forgive Obama's inability to act as a Statesman rather than abandon his narcissistic cheerleading. It wouldn't even occur to them that making Obama the center of attention at Scalia's funeral would be their fault.
Politico notes in the sub-head that "The president's decision is being played up by some as a snub at a politically fraught time."
Yes, it is a politically fraught time.
Yes, some, including many Democrats, are wondering why this President cannot resist ball spiking and trash talk: "I won Antonin! I outlived you." "I won," is a refrain explaining a good part of why the time is politically fraught.
Recognizing that Politico is struggling to make sense of all this, TOC sent that paragraph to our rewrite department:
"Pictures of Obama chewing gum, high-fiving the Vice President, and mouthing “I won!” during Scalia’s funeral were considered to have too much negative PR potential. Especially in light of the President's upcoming dead-on-arrival nomination for Scalia's replacement.
The opportunity to behave decently for an hour or so at Scalia’s funeral might well have generated some good will, misled people to believe Obama’s humble-brag that he regrets not fixing the partisan divide he exacerbated, mitigated his insult to SCOTUS in his 2010 State of the Union address, and reflected true regret that he filibustered Justice Alito's confirmation.
However, the required behavior was described as “apolitical - so not remotely possible” by an anonymous source: “He can’t be expected to act like a Statesman, so it’s better he hits the links. Besides, how would it look to show up for a mere Supreme Court Justice after he already skipped Margaret Thatcher’s funeral?”"
There, fixed that for you Politico.
There's been some speculation that Scalia's family asked Obama not to attend. I disregard this because it's the last thing Justice Ginsburg's good friend would have desired, and if the request had been made, Obama would surely have decided he must attend.