As I said here and here , I would keep an eye on the more recent trend in the media and the blogosphere to divest from the new president any responsibility for bad decisions and faux-pas committed by him in the course of the period of 100 days of grace given to him by the usually so compassionate and thoughtful denizens of these two spheres where mass communication takes place.
So here is another example:
Following the snubbing of the British PM in which, it is claimed that he was shabbily treated by Obama who seems to have ignored "protocol and cheaping out on the traditional gift exchange, the UK media has erupted in outrage."
As it is explained here:
"The exchange of gifts seemed to say it all: for Barack Obama, an ornamental pen holder carved from the timbers of the HMS Gannet, a British naval vessel that took part in the battle to end the slave trade; for Gordon Brown, a box set of classic American movies on DVD."
"Watching Brown with the president was like watching a young man on a first date with a girl who’s far clever, funnier, and more attractive than him, knowing he’s out of his league but still trying to impress. Brown leaned eagerly towards Obama, but Obama maintained a detached air. Brown called Obama “Barack”; Obama called Brown “prime minister.”
The line of defense went like this:
"The defense? Obama doesn’t dislike Britain nor its Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It’s just that he’s in way over his head [--]
Much better isn’t it? I mean it’s always better to be incompetent than rude, no?"
(If we apply a favourite British maxim that "a gentleman is someone who never accidentally insults someone else", then we can see where this sort of defense can lead...)
So, it's not the new president's fault that he flunked his role as a host to America's first, longest and most cherished ally. It is the economic situation that saps up all his time and energy. It's not him. It's them.
One commenter on Poligazette goes into further detail trying to excuse the gaff:
"... who was responsible? I don’t think for one minute that the president typically would personally see to the gift choices- there must be a staff member who deals with that. The choice of DVDs as a gift for head of state certainly sounds like a faux pas by a very young staffer who perhaps is completely unaware of the types of gifts that are normally exchanged."
Personally I don't buy the "too tired" excuse. I watched just a day or two ago a report on CNN (I think) on how the Obamas like partying and they have already thrown six or seven parties at the White House since they moved in. That does not sound like the kind of social activities people do when they are tired, overwhelmed by the economic distress of Americans, and in need of rest, does it? But what do I know?
Update, March 11: But I am a liberal is stumped:
So now that Obama has already offered up our close allies in Eastern Europe and insulted the Prime Minister of another strong European friend, I hope some of that super diplomacy Obama kept talking about during his campaign starts to show up in the old country, because right now it looks like a pitiful mess.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Sunday, March 08, 2009