The White House's muted reaction to museum shooting

President Obama asked about a wounded security guard. But press secretary Robert Gibbs wasn't exactly effusive.

Published June 10, 2009 7:11PM (EDT)

WASHINGTON -- Today's shooting at the Holocaust Museum came less than two weeks after Dr. George Tiller's murder and a murder at an Army recruiting post in Arkansas, but the White House isn't quite ready to say the incidents indicate any kind of trend toward politically motivated violence.

"I would want to ask somebody in law enforcement if they see links such as that," press secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily briefing this afternoon. "I don't -- I don't think it would be wise for me to surmise something like that."

White House aides alerted President Obama about the shooting shortly after it happened, and they were monitoring developments in the Situation Room throughout the afternoon, Gibbs said. The president asked about a security guard wounded in the assault.

But Gibbs came off as rather bloodless in his description of Obama's reaction, much as he had last week in expressing condolences to Tiller's family. Instead, he gave a rote recitation, without much empathy or emotion. "I walked in and told him there had been a shooting at the museum," he told reporters. "Obviously concerned, and concern for the security guard that appears to have been hurt. I gave him mostly a factual briefing of the facts as we knew it, or knew them at that point, and that's about it. Obviously, saddened by what -- what has happened."

Watch Gibbs here:

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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