One of the best things about being in the Press Box at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day is the access one has to important people. Sure, the access to the free food, computer terminals, and the actual race track are important, but—sooner or later—all of Kentucky’s movers and shakers pass along the sixth-floor hallway to Millionaires’ Row.
Last Oaks Day (May 6), we bumped into Steve Beshear, the incumbent Governor of our fine Commonwealth. With some temerity, we asked him why he didn’t join with President Obama to visit with and show support for the troops down at Fort Campbell that day.
Gov. Steve & Jane Beshear (Photo: McAdam)
The governor responded with a sincere statement of how proud of and grateful for our men and women in uniform he is, “Especially our wonderful Navy SEALS.” He went on to explain that his office only received notice of the president’s itinerary in the last few hours, and the governor’s Oaks Day schedule had been in the planning for months. “I promised the Breast Cancer Awareness people I would be here today to support their efforts, and several out-of-state business leaders are meeting with me to discuss the development of new jobs for Kentuckians.” He said that he regretted that he and the president were unable to coordinate their schedules to have a meeting today.
Despite Gov. Beshear’s reasonable explanation, he received a lot of flak in the local press, along with a spate of irate letters-to-the-editor from outraged Obama supporters. The president of the Louisville NAACP complained that the governor was snubbing the president, and “…it could cost him votes in the general election.” Now, it appears that the governor’s statement on Oaks Day was actually a well-mannered gentleman’s little white lie, disguising the reality that the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was being snubbed by the President of the United States.
Today’s Lexington Herald-Leader reports that when Obama visited Fort Campbell on Oaks Day to meet the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden, the state’s governor—a fellow Democrat—wasn’t even invited to join him.
Internal emails obtained by The Associated Press under the Kentucky's open record law show that Beshear was the one who received a cold shoulder during Obama's visit to Fort Campbell. When Gov. Beshear’s staff learned at the last minute that the president was on his way to visit the state, there was a flurry of emails back and forth, to see if anyone had received an invitation from the White House. No one had.
According to the Herald-Leader: “A White House official confirmed that Beshear wasn't invited.”
The effrontery of a president flying into a state for a “non-political” photo-op without inviting the local governor and congressmen to tag along—particularly when they are members of his own party—is déclassé, even for a narcissist of Obama’s ilk. Of course, Gov. Beshear has made numerous trips to Ft. Campbell, in support of our troops. The Oaks Day trip was a first for President Obama.