Barack Obama’s Feckless European Tour

COMMENTARY | For a man who was heralded by Hollywood screenwriter, director and producer Michael Seitzman to signify the “Return of Grace” to government, President Barack Obama can’t manage to take two steps forward these days without tripping over his own feet. After a series of failed and/or unpopular domestic legislative policies, crashing poll numbers and embarrassing foreign policy faux pas, the foundering president can’t even manage to appropriately schedule his many tee-times and frequent family vacations around an avalanche of natural-, self- and “man caused disasters,” notes NewsBusters.

Just as Obama abandoned the tornado-ravaged south in April for what he considered to be a more important three-day fundraising/campaign tour out west, rather than visit what is left of tornado leveled Joplin, Mo., the president made a quick call to send his “deepest condolences” before jetting off for a four-country, six-day tour of Europe with his family.

“I want everybody in Joplin, everybody in Missouri, everybody in Minnesota, everybody across the Midwest to know that we are here for you,” the president said, according to CNS News, spreading his communal sympathy blanket to include the other areas he was also too busy to visit personally. The White House Web even posted a photo of President Obama calling Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon from Dublin, Ireland, to prove how much he really cares.

“The American people are by your side,” Obama said from 5,516 miles away. And while he assured those whose lives have been laid to waste by a relentless army of storms that the American people would “stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet,” he wouldn’t be there until Sunday. In the meantime, he had throngs of cheering Irish fans to attend to.

With the tedious responsibilities of deficits, three wars and the needs of so many Americans whose lives left behind him, President Obama was was greeted like a rock star by some 25,000 screaming fresh Irish fans at Dublin’s famed College Green. But alas, even as he stood in the heart of Dublin, the luck of the Irish escaped him.

Due to the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, CNN reports Obama had to cut short his stay among his new groupies to avoid potential flight complications resulting from the plume of volcanic ash. But not before hitting a pub to bang back a pint of Guinness. Unlike previous presidents, Obama’s pub buddies were most impressed with his drinking talent.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan opted for a pint of Smithwicks, a locally brewed red ale. He didn’t finish it. But he posed for a few photos nonetheless. In 2006, because George W. Bush was a recovering alcoholic, he chose a non-alcoholic beer and wasn’t asked to pose with a pint of Guinness at all. Having been preceded by his party reputation, Bill Clinton proved to be somewhat of a disappointment in 1995. Although he made an appearance at the pub in Dublin that bore his family’s Irish name of Cassidy, he barely sipped his stout. Obama downed a pint of dark Guinness in four gulps, according to the Associated Press. Again, his fans cheered.

While leaving the U.S. embassy in Dublin, heading to Marine One for a flight to Moneygall, Obama’s Irish literally bottomed out again. While exiting the gate, his armored Cadillac nicknamed “The Beast” got stuck on the ramp and lurched to an abrupt halt. The crowd, again cheering, now melted into disappointed groans. A flashy rock star exit can be so difficult sometimes.

Curiously, this was not the first time the eight-ton diesel “Beast” has caused the president a bit of international embarrassment. While world leaders arrived in low-emission hybrid vehicles, Obama thought it would be a good idea to show up in the same heavily armored Cadillac to the NATO summit in Lisbon last year. So having now been twice bitten by The Beast, it seemed to serve as both a visual pun of Obama’s European tour and an omen of further disasters to come.

The first punchline of Obama’s visit to England came well ahead of the joke his trip would become. Scotland Yard gave Barack Obama the codename “Chalaque.” While phonetically similar to the words “shellac” or “shelaquing” — a commonly used term used to refer to a person or team that was beaten soundly in a competition — the real meaning of “Chelaque” is no less flattering. Chelaque is Punjabi for “smart aleck.” According to Indarjit Singh, a Punjabi speaker and UK Director of the Network of Sikh Organizations, the word “Chelaque” is sometimes used “when we want to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good,” reports the Daily Mail.

When the revelation of this less than flattering code name came to light, Scotland Yard immediately insisted the moniker slight was completely innocent and utterly unintentional. A spokesperson from Scotland Yard maintained that the code name was chosen not by them but by a computer program “in sequential order from a randomly selected list.”

Interestingly, just as Obama elected not to accept Britain’s offer to keep the bust of Winston Churchill for another four years, originally given as a gift on-loan to George Bush after the horror of 9-11, Scotland Yard chose not to let the computer randomly select a less unbecoming code-name for Barack Obama.

It is most ironic that the man who relies so much upon a teleprompter and the Internet was ultimately insulted by a computer.

Once in England, Obama furthered his ungraceful visit by signing the guestbook at Westminster Abbey with the wrong date:

“It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice.

Barack Obama

24 May 2008″

Perhaps Obama was grasping wistfully back to the brighter days at the beginning of his presidency. You remember those days, the “Hope and Change” days that have been left in the dust of “Reality and Status Quo”? But I digress.

After signing the guestbook with a date of three years earlier, President Obama received a tour of Westminster Abbey from the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, where he laid a wreath on England’s Grave of the Unknown Warrior. Obama had laid a wreath at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during his 2009 visit to Moscow as well. Curiously, due to a scheduling conflict with yet another family vacation (taken in the middle of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf), the commander-in-chief of the United States was unable to attend the traditional Memorial Day ceremony in America to lay a wreath on the Tomb of our unknown soldiers, notes Fox News.

And the embarrassing European Misery Tour Continued.

Whether it was because he mistook the music as the American version of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or he thought it was a tribute to him for his children’s book, “Of Thee I Sing,” of which he gave signed and personalized editions to the offspring of Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama did not realize until it was embarrassingly too late that he was committing a violation of international protocol by talking through England’s national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

“Ladies and gentlemen please stand with me and raise your glasses as I propose a toast,” Obama said lifting his glass. “To her majesty the Queen.”

The guests stood and the orchestra prepared to play. “The vitality,” he managed to say before the music began and from there it was like a slow motion train wreck of which everyone would bear witness but would be painfully helpless to prevent. And the president just kept going: ” – of the special relationship between our peoples and for the words of Shakespeare to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

The queen simply looked ahead. “To the Queen,” Obama concluded. But England’s anthem continued to play. He lifted his glass. She smiled uncomfortably. Seeing that no one else lifted their glass, Obama finally got the message and awkwardly set his back down on the table. This was perhaps the worst lesson for Obama in what it’s like not to have his teleprompter and full staging control over the environment and audience when he speaks. And the excruciating discomfiture didn’t stop there.

Following the toast disaster, Obama moved on to Westminster Hall, where he delivered another unimpressive speech Thursday. For the most part,for the man who is use to having his audiences scream and cheer with approval, it must have been painfully uncomfortable to receive no applause and no shouts of approval from an audience.

According to the UK Telegraph, Obama’s speech “sounded as if it had been worked on so hard and conscientiously by a vast team of helpers that it had lost all savor, and been reduced to a series of orotund banalities.” Not an impressive review for one who is used to being called, according to Politico, “The Greatest Orator of all Time” by his pals in the American mainstream media, who get a thrill going up their legs when he speaks .

So, as we set sail upon the uncertain seas of the 2012 elections, it has yet to be determined whether or not Republicans can manage to find a worthy captain to steer their ship successfully into the White House. However, as a series of Republican candidates continues to enter, jump overboard or sent to walk the plank, one thing has become painfully clear. No matter what strategy the eventual Republican nominee may choose in his/her attempt to sink Obama’s re-election ship, it will be nothing compared to the damage Obama continues to inflict himself as he continues to fire his cannons at his own hull.

That said, according to a recent report in The Huffington Post, Obama has assigned someone named Jesse Lee to a new post as director of Progressive Media & Online Response. Essentially, Lee will be responsible for building up Obama’s online presence as he prepares for his reelection bid. Primarily, it will be Lee’s job to root out and squash any negative stories.

In other words, if Jesse finds this article and determines it to be an unsuitable representation of Obama, I may likely find myself being contacted by the director. Should he find my commentary egregious enough, perhaps some mysterious virus will infect my laptop as I open his email of reprimand to prevent any further unacceptable contributions …

A bit dramatic I must admit. However, as Lee works for a man who advocates the strategy of “punish your enemies,” I do consider myself warned.


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