Obama and Nancy Reagan

President Obama Is Skipping Nancy Reagan’s Funeral, But Here Is Why It Isn’t A Big Deal Or Unusual

The media and many social media users have criticized President Barack Obama for skipping former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Obama will instead attend the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival which left many conservatives calling Obama “self-centered” and “low class.” Though Obama is catching some heat for missing Nancy Reagan’s funeral, he isn’t the first president to skip a former first lady’s funeral. In fact, more presidents have skipped funerals of former first ladies than have attended including George Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter.

Fox News Insider reported the shocking headline “Obama Skipping Nancy Reagan’s Funeral To Speak At SXSW Festival” and many conservatives jumped on the opportunity to bash the president for his “classless” absence. In fact, the Obama bashing seemed to take over Facebook and Twitter, with many questioning why the president has missed so many high profile funerals as of late. Obama also skipped out on Justice Scalia’s funeral earlier this year.

Though the reports are true that Obama will be at the South By Southwest music festival, he is not the first president to skip a former first lady’s funeral. In fact, historically presidents have not attended a former first lady’s funeral and instead the current First Lady attends in their honor. This is the case with Obama regarding Nancy Reagan’s funeral. The POTUS will continue as planned to give his key note speech at SXSW, while First Lady Michelle Obama attends Reagan’s funeral.

Other presidents who have skipped a former first lady’s funeral include George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and even Ronald Reagan himself. As Media Matters for America points out, presidents have a long history of skipping a former first lady’s funeral and instead sending the current First Lady in their wake.

“Bill Clinton did not attend the funeral of Pat Nixon in 1993. In 2007, President George W. Bush did not attend the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson, though he had no scheduled events that day. And in 2011, Obama did not attend the funeral of former first lady Betty Ford. President Carter also did not attend the funeral of Mamie Eisenhower in 1979, while President Reagan did not attend the funeral of Bess Truman in 1982.”

As you can see, Obama not attending Nancy Reagan’s funeral is hardly out of character for a currently seated president. With both Republican and Democrat presidents having skipped out on these high-profile funerals in the past, Obama is not setting a new precedent for abstaining from attending a first lady funeral but rather falling in line with past examples.

While not attending seems to be the norm, there are a few presidents who have made an exception and attended a former first lady’s funeral. The two examples being President John F. Kennedy who attended the funeral of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1962 and Bill Clinton attending the funeral of Jacquelyn Kennedy in 1994.

While President Obama is not attending Nancy Reagan’s funeral, he gave a tribute to the late Reagan by noting that he was “grateful” for her life and the example she set for future First Ladies by “redefining their role.”

First Lady Michelle Obama will be present along with Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at Nancy Reagan’s funeral on Friday.

While President Barack Obama is at the SXSW festival, he will be giving a key note speech and claims he will use the time to “ask everyone for ideas and technologies that can help update our government and our democracy to be as modern and dynamic as America itself.”

“Next week, I’ll travel to Austin, Texas, to visit South by Southwest. It’s an annual gathering of some of our most creative thinkers, coders, makers, and entrepreneurs from across the country. And while I’m there, I’m going to ask everyone for ideas and technologies that can help update our government and our democracy to be as modern and dynamic as America itself.”

What do you think about President Obama skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral? Does it change your opinion on the matter to know that past presidents have historically not attended former first lady funerals and instead sent the current First Lady in their honor?

[Image by Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP Photo]

Comments