Of course he should. He doesn't have to. It's not written in stone, or in the Constitution. Bush did, and Eisenhower did once but skipped another. Who knows what other presidents did in the past? The point isn't should he because everyone else did or didn't do it. The point is, should he? Based on everything I'm hearing, he's not meeting with Putin tomorrow, or signing major legislation. He's not flying to India. He seems like he has a day to durp about.
So he should. He isn't going to, from what I've heard. I'm sure he won't. He knows that by not doing it, Conservatives will complain. He knows that the media will rush in to remind us that Eisenhower did go to one funeral, but skipped another, so it's no big deal. Liberal pundits will then charge Conservatives with being petty, partisan, or not knowing their history. Obama also will have made a powerful point to his base. They secretly know, of course, that he isn't going to make a point. And they are glad for it. But they needn't be honest about it. They won't be. Neither will the press. And Obama knows it.
Of course he should go. If he wanted to end partisanship, heal divisions, reach out a kind and welcoming hand, that's exactly what he should do. Even if no president ever did it in the past, Obama could set a precedent. Or at least just do a good thing. Something that would no doubt receive mixed blessings. His own base would be upset. And I'm sure there are some hard right Conservatives who would find something to complain about. But by doing it, he at least would be taking a step toward healing divisions by building bridges. And we all know how important it is to build bridges. Last I heard, your salvation could depend on it.
But he isn't. He has shown no desire to bring harmony and unity to Washington. On the contrary, I've not seen a president in my lifetime who deliberately does everything possible to drive wedges between people and create as many divisions as he has done. And he knows the press won't call him out on it, just like the press will have his back tomorrow at Scalia's funeral. When it comes to seizing control of a society, you can do worse than having the press at your back.