Robert Gibbs, former Obama press secretary and current senior adviser to the re-election campaign, appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, where he demonstrated he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Only Gibbs wasn’t joking when he said:
Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world.
It is true that Romney stepped in it big-time by volunteering during a pre-Olympics interview in London with NBC that he had seen “disconcerting” signs that made it “hard to know just how well [the London games] will turn out.” The comment drew fire from Prime Minister David Cameron and from London mayor Boris Johnson, who said, “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready.” Johnson’s comment was answered by jeers from a crowd of 60,000 Londoners.
Even Charles Krauthammer was critical of the gaffe, declaring on FOX News Channel, “It’s unbelievable, it’s beyond human understanding, it’s incomprehensible. I’m out of adjectives.”
But Robert Gibbs has little room to talk. Gibbs may have forgotten having spent the better part of two years at the podium of the White House press briefing room mopping up for his boss’s international flubs, but the rest of us haven’t. Gibbsy was up to his eyeballs in damage control after Obama snubbed the nation’s oldest ally in January of 2011 when he stated that “[w]e don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.” The British press took notice.
Just this past week, Obama’s Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer refreshed the world’s memory about one of Obama’s earliest slights of Britain, and he did so in grand style.
Pfeiffer was reacting to a Washington Post article in which Charles Krauthammer noted in passing that one of Obama’s earliest actions as president was to return to the Brits the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. In a post titled “fact check” at the White House Blog, a Pfeiffer huffily wrote:
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
To prove his point, Pfeiffer included this photo of Obama and David Cameron admiring the bust. The photo by official White House photographer Pete Souza is dated July 20, 2010. So ha-ha!
But nuh-uh. As it turns out, the bust of Churchill in the photo was a second portrait sculpture of the statesman that had been in the White House for decades. Krauthammer was correct in his assertion that Obama had returned the bust in the Oval Office to the British Embassy. Pfeiffer admitted his error in an update, but in doing so continued to misreport the facts:
The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day. [Emphasis added]
But no one had ever accused Obama of returning the bust out of antipathy. In fact, it remains a mystery why he took this spiteful step at all. But it’s not the only time this White House has acted strangely toward one of our oldest allies in Europe. Who can forget Obama’s “gift” to the Queen of England during his first visit to Buckingham Place in April of 2009: An iPod containing the audio files of speeches he had made. It was as though he was saying, “But enough about me, Your Majesty. So what do you think of me?”
There is also the matter of the president’s wife on that same trip breaking centuries-old protocol by giving the queen a little pat on the back without being invited to touch her. The mainstream media rushed to the First Lady’s defense, calling the rule antiquated while simultaneously reporting that the royal family had graciously overlooked the impropriety.
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