By Jared Kennedy
President Barack Obama visited Nebraska last week. He spoke at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Baxter arena and there were more than 11,000 individuals in attendance. Governor Pete Ricketts was not one of those 11,000.
Governor Ricketts declined the White House invitation to the President’s speech. He also refrained from greeting Obama at Offutt Air force Base, citing scheduling conflicts. This was met with much displeasure from individuals all around the country. Ricketts did recant however and made time in his schedule to greet the president as he landed.
The distaste for Gov. Ricketts was very apparent when the big screen in Baxter Arena showed Ricketts greeting Obama. The crowd let out a unanimous and roaring round of booing, clearly directed at Ricketts.
In the past, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum in Nebraska have made time to both greet the president as he arrives, and attend his speech. The Democratic Party in Nebraska mentioned in a press release Ricketts’ decision to disregard the President was “Petty.”
At the end of the day, does it really matter if Gov. Ricketts made time to see Obama? Are there not more important things for the general public to worry about? It is unlikely Barack Obama was concerned even slightly when he heard Ricketts wasn’t going to be in attendance. As young people we have a culture that is so focused on breaking free of social norms. Why then do we hold it so valuable to do the typical political formalities? Does it serve anyone positively (or negatively) for Ricketts to be seen shaking Obamas hand on the tarmac at Offutt? I truly don’t believe so.
It could perhaps be important Ricketts hear the message Obama was sharing that day, in which case I would hope he reads a transcription of the speech when it is convenient for him to do so.
To anyone who waited hours in the cold to see the speech, I submit you have been duped. No one should put himself or herself through such misery just to hear the words of another human being. Folks could have been at home enjoying a nice book and a cup of tea, waiting for the speech transcript to arrive via the internet.
Ricketts was in preparation for his own State of the State address, which is monumentally more important for him as the governor than attending the event. If anything it is great Ricketts made the time for the completely pointless procedure of greeting the President at Offutt. Perhaps while he was there he could’ve had a short discussion with Obama about similar pointless political formalities.
Obama could talk about how lame pardoning the turkey is and Ricketts could mention he really didn’t didn’t want to come greet him all along. To which Obama will reply, “All good man, trust me I couldn’t care less.”
“I’m grateful to my staff who worked so hard to rearrange my schedule, so that I could welcome the president to Nebraska.” That is what Gov. Ricketts said upon “changing his mind,” as so many have referred to it. Is Ricketts eating his words or back peddling due to the unexpected blow back from declining the invitation? We will never know, and it doesn’t matter.
Tomorrow, people will wake up and mankind will still have all the same existential threats it faced today. Human-influenced global warming, the Anthropocene, North Korea may have made a hydrogen bomb and for God’s sake, David Bowie is dead.
What’s next for the nation, the state and this city is impacted very little by Gov. Pete Ricketts attendance to a speech. To fuss about such a thing is to forget the entire premise of life as we know it; to prosper in whatever way we prefer.