Okay, the first family is back from their latest tour of Europe and the Middle East. It looks to me like they were more successful when Barack Obama was a presidential candidate last July. Whereas last time they met crowds of admirers at every stop, this time they got a bunch of foreign leaders saying No, Non, Nein and Nyet to every proposal he threw out. If their goal was to show that America was no longer a world leader, but just another nation, they succeeded. Otherwise, they were a big embarrassment.
Honestly, I don’t think the head of a great nation has acted so boorish since Peter the Great visited western Europe, 312 years ago. Here’s what I wrote about that trip in my Russian history papers:
In the spring of 1697 Peter became the first tsar to travel abroad. He traveled with a group of boyars, Cossacks, drummers, trumpeters, and dancing dwarves, disguised as an ordinary carpenter named Peter Mikhailov. His disguise was not convincing–not only was he six foot nine inches tall (that gets attention no matter who you are!)–but he tended to order around the boyars a little too much. They passed through Sweden (the Swedes knew who Peter Mikhailov was, but discretely looked the other way), Prussia, Holland (where Peter learned about shipbuilding by laboring in the shipyards), and England. Everywhere they went, Peter wanted to learn as much as possible about how things worked. Ultimately he became an expert in 14 crafts: he could shoe a horse, cast a cannon, pull a tooth or cut the type for a printing press. He never showed much interest in theoretical knowledge, though; the products of European civilization mattered to him more than the theories that produced them. Those he met in the West took notice of his intelligence, determination–and boorish behavior. In Prussia, not knowing about whalebone corsets, he remarked that German ladies have devilishly hard bones. He called on England’s King William III in his shirtsleeves, and after his embassy left the mansion where they had stayed in England, it looked as if “Tartars had camped there.” Doors had been ripped off their hinges, windows were shattered, portraits were riddled with musket balls and a wheelbarrow was driven into a hedge. Peter paid for the damage by handing his host a dirty piece of paper in which a huge uncut diamond was wrapped.
So how is Barack Obama acting boorish? I told you about the time a few weeks back when he gave the British prime minister a set of DVDs that won’t work in British DVD players. This time he gave the Queen of England an iPod — again a gift that’s appropriate for a friend or relative, but not a head of state or head of government. Then he greeted Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah with a bow, when protocol said a simple handshake would have been good enough:
I find this especially galling, considering that a few years ago I speculated that the Saudis might be Satan’s chosen people. Who else sees this as an act of submission to the leader of the country which finances most of the schools training terrorists in today’s world? It makes one wonder how far Obama has really gotten from his Moslem roots. Especially when I hear that he hasn’t found a new church to attend since he left the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright last year, and that Wright used to be a Black Muslim; in college Wright majored in Islamic studies.
And that’s not all. When North Korea carried out its threat of another missile test, he did nothing about it. In Turkey, he said that he does not consider America a Christian nation, and the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared that he doesn’t agree with Obama’s assessment of Turkey as the nation which represents moderate Islam. In Austria he confessed that he doesn’t know the word in Austrian for “wheeling and dealing.” Uh, Mr. President, the Austrians speak German, in case you haven’t noticed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Europeans are laughing behind our backs right now.
And to the mainstream media: please stop gushing over how Michelle is a fashion pacesetter like Jacqueline Kennedy, with all the new dresses she is wearing. Now you’re calling this administration another “Camelot.” Keep in mind that every Camelot story — whether you are talking about the original Camelot, Akhenaten & Nefertiti in ancient Egypt, or the Kennedy White House — ends in tragedy. Do you really want that to happen to the current administration. Personally I would rather see them leave Washington peacefully, even though I disagree with almost everything they are saying or doing.
On a positive note, I will give credit where it’s due. The team Mr. Obama picked in March, the University of North Carolina, won the NCAA championship. He knows how to pick winners in sports, anyway.