Commentary Magazine


Contentions

A New Low

In the “gaffe” section of its analysis of the president’s performance at the G-20, the New York Times writes:

The Obamas gave Queen Elizabeth II an iPod loaded with songs and videos — this after weeks of grief from the British press over the 25 DVDs that the couple gave Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain when he visited Washington. (The Browns gave the Obamas an ornate penholder made from the timber of a Victorian antislave ship.)

And Michelle Obama, during the meeting with the queen, touched her, raising already high-brows over on this side of the pond. Buckingham Palace protocol says that commoners must not touch the queen, a dictate that foreign leaders in the past have ignored at their own peril. When Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia did the same thing back in 1992 the newspapers here called him the “Lizard of Oz.”

Hmm… What’s missing? Let’s think. Wow – they seem to have left out any mention of the president’s utterly inappropriate low bow before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Let’s imagine if George W. Bush had pulled such a stunt. I think we would have had the photo above-the-fold.

After a May 2004 meeting between Abdullah and Bush the Times sniffed:

A tone of studied deference could be seen in Mr. Bush’s repeatedly calling the king ”your majesty” and the king’s referring to the president as ”sir.” Mr. Bush went out of his way to thank the king for giving him advice on the current situation.

And in 2005 the media obsessed over hand-holding between Bush and Abdullah.

But an American president dips low before a foreign king and nary a mention from the Gray Lady. Well, virtually no mention was made elsewhere in the mainstream media either, so the Times is not alone in concealing the mega-gaffe from the public. Which leaves one wondering: why? It seems a tad more significant than Michelle’s embrace (which followed the Queen’s own physical gesture and therefore technically did not violate the “Don’t touch the Queen” rule). It certainly is more appalling.



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