Fareed Zakaria: White House Explanation of Obama's Absence "Pathetic"

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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN: Is it a big deal President Obama and Joe Biden and John Kerry all skipped this or is this not a big deal as the President of France is making it sound.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: The president of France is being very diplomatic. This is all about symbolism. Of course, substantively it doesn't matter. The president of the United States is very deeply engaged in this struggle, he has been helping France and France has been an ally by the way on these issues as well. But look at the symbolism. These are the front pages of the newspapers and I bet you this is the front page of every newspaper around the world today

CAMEROTA: You're seeing the pictures of many world leaders armed locked walking arm-in-arm in Paris in solidarity.

ZAKARIA: And who is not there? There is no American there. And frankly, the White House's explanation is pathetic. They're telling us that some embassy staffers were there. Here you have the Chancellor of Germany, the president of France, the King of Jordan, the head of the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister of Israel. And great, there was the third political officer from the U.S. embassy in France, that's not an explanation.

It's possible you couldn't send Obama there. I thought this is why God invented vice presidents. But let's say Biden couldn't go. At the funeral of Winston Churchill, Lyndon Johnson couldn't attend, he sent the Chief Justice [of the Supreme Court] and the Secretary of State. He sent a huge delegation to symbolize that, 'Look, I can't be there, but we're sending high representatives of the United States.'

CAMEROTA: So why didn't they send anyone?

ZAKARIA: I think mistakes happen. I think they just made a mistake and are now trying to cover it up by claiming things like security and such. You could have sent Bill Clinton who needs much less security than the president does.

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