President Obama's schedule puts him squarely in the middle of the two biggest stories in Washington.
One stop on his itinerary, the White House insists, had been previously scheduled, though it is quite appropriate. This afternoon, he makes his first visit as commander-in-chief to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to talk to the war wounded -- a day after an Army psychologist reportedly upset about being deployed to the war zone killed 13 and injured 31 at Fort Hood in Texas.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama said he has been briefed on the ongoing investigation.
"We don't have all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts," he said.
But what is known is that families are grieving for the victims, he said. So Obama issued a proclamation ordering flags flown at half-staff until sunset on Tuesday, with Veterans Day following the next day. (Read the proclamation here.)
"We honor their service and stand in awe of their sacrifice," the president said. (His full remarks are below.)
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said later that Obama will attend a memorial service for those killed at Fort Hood.
The service will be scheduled at the convenience of victims' families and the president's attendance could delay a 10-day trip to Asia that is scheduled to start Wednesday, Gibbs said.
UPDATE: According to the press pool report, Obama spent about 1 hour, 45 minutes at Walter Reed, about 40 minutes more than scheduled, but did not say anything to reporters afterwards.
During the private visit, a White House spokesman says, Obama visited 19 soldiers, three families of soldiers in intensive care, and hospital staff. He also awarded two Purple Hearts for combat injuries.
The Walter Reed visit follows by a week his middle-of-the-night trip to Dover Air Force Base to honor 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan in one of the bloodiest days for US forces in that eight-year conflict.
Obama had also been scheduled to sweep onto Capitol Hill today to buck up his House allies on the eve of a major vote Saturday on the health care overhaul.
But the White House announced late Thursday night that he has postponed his trip until Saturday -- right before the vote -- which suggests how thin the margin might be as Democratic leaders try to round up 218 votes.
I want to begin by offering an update on the tragedy that took place yesterday at Fort Hood.
This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and women. We don't know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.
What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base. So from now until Veterans Day I've ordered the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff. This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country. And it's also recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our safety and uphold our values. We honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice, and we pray for the safety of those who fight and for the families of those who have fallen. And as we continue to learn more about what happened at Fort Hood, this administration will continue to provide you updates in the coming days and weeks.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.