Jeannie DeAngelis I americanthinker.com
Barack Obama is a man who marches to the beat of his own drummer. The President of the United States is so laid-back he disregards protocol, and if his behavior were to be measured in drum beats, the syncopation would certainly be considered off-tempo. Either Barack Obama is ignorant when it comes to international decorum, is totally devoid of personal self-awareness, or believes the superiority of his presence supersedes the need for propriety.
On the whole, the Obamas have had their fair share of faux pas on the world stage. For instance, a few months after Obama was sworn into office, on a trip to Britain, Michelle was so overtaken with fondness for the Queen of England that she spontaneously gave her a hug.
Protocol is defined as "a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence (as in diplomatic exchange and in the military services)." Precedence was certainly broken when America's touchy-feely first lady, who thankfully had the wherewithal to skip the fist bump, treated the elderly royal to what the British press described as a close, demonstrative clinch.
Michelle is probably just the warm cuddly type, someone who likes to reach out with her $42,000 Katie Davis diamond-encrusted arms and touch people. Michelle Obama could very well be the Barney of the political world. There's nothing wrong with that, except when Mrs. Obama mistakenly oversteps Muslim religious mores that prohibit physical interaction between males and females, which is exactly what happened during the Obamas' visit to Indonesia.
First Michelle "Whatever you do don't touch the queen" Obama embraced the queen, and then in Indonesia, clearly oblivious to religious protocol, she shook hands with conservative Muslim Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring.
When it comes to "avoiding contact with women not related to him," Mr. Sembiring who "flaunts[s] piety," is on par with Queen Elizabeth and her reputation for priggish evasion of social physical contact. Yet, in both cases, Michelle Obama's warm nature was able to cut through Muslim orthodoxy and English chilliness with a firm grip and a loving grab!
Breaking cultural social conduct rules must be a family trait, because on many occasions Obama has emulated his wife in breaches of protocol, and we're not talking forgetting to raise a pinky while drinking Earl Grey with the queen.
Barack Obama has bowed to the wrong people, forgotten to put his hand over his heart for the national anthem, and snuck out of the White House without the press corps to go to his daughter's soccer game. The Commander-in-Chief shook hands with a Marine while boarding Marine One, and he met with the Dalai Lama against China's objections and then had the holy man leave out the back entrance, in the dead of winter, shod in flip-flops, past questionably stained snow and garbage bags full of rotting potato peels.
Arguably, like a young ring bearer with his finger up his nose heading toward the altar, all those incidents could be written off as a political neophyte fumbling around, trapped in an awkward learning curve. However, where in the heck was Chief of Protocol of the United States, Capricia Penavic Marshall, when Obama and Michelle got a chance to make up for Shelley's bear-hugging the queen?
Based on the last go-round with the iPod and the impromptu clinch, Ms. Marshall should have given the President a short run-through and let him know that "God Save the Queen" is not mood music to lend a stirring backdrop when toasting a British monarch. Moreover, Obama's Chief of Protocol could at least call in body language expert Tonya Reiman to tell the President that if all else fails, if you look around the table and everyone has a look on their faces similar to Michelle on a good day, maybe it's time to shut up and let the music take over.
"God Save the Queen" from the Obamas' fumbling aside, Barack's behavior during a group photo op at the UN during an Open Government Partnership event even trumps the time he skipped the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski to go golfing. Standing in the middle of what looks like a class picture, a smiling Obama, caught up in the excitement of the moment, did the unthinkable -- he waved.
Not only did the President break with protocol, but as the other 29 leaders in the photo all stood with their hands at their sides or clasped in front of them, Obama looked like he was doing a dry run of the oath of office he thinks he'll be taking when he's sworn in as President of the Planet.
The completely self-absorbed Barack waved to his fans, and in so doing completely blocked the face of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the president of Mongolia, from the picture. Next time Tsakhiagiin is placed next to Obama during a group photo, just to be sure, he should don a western Mongolian fur-trimmed hat so at least there's a clue as to who he is.
Time and again, it seems as if Michelle and Barry do the waltz while the world does the Macarena. So here we are -- another day, another awkward incident. Who knows, next time Obama may well show up at a skiing event bedecked in a Speedo, flippers and snorkeling gear.
Even still, maybe if Capricia Penavic Marshall can keep her footing on the way to the White House screening room, now might be as good a time as any to schedule a PowerPoint presentation on the diversity of protocol.
Henceforth, giving Obama proper procedural instruction could spare a lot of people raising their eyebrows and looking around the room for reassurance that Barack Obama enthusiastically giving the Vulcan salute at a UN function is not the figment of a "Dubonnet and Gin" imagination.