"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Friday, 20 March 2009

The One Gaffes Again

Barack Obama's gaffes are getting closer together. A mere three days since thanking himself for hosting the Irish Prime Minister (despite his supporters now claiming he was 'continuing the confusion for fun'), Obama appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno - becoming the first serving US President to go on a late night chat show.

However, embarrassment ensued when remarks he made were interpreted as being disparaging to the disabled:

'Mr Leno asked the president whether the White House bowling alley had been 'burned and closed down' in light of Obama's gutter ball embarrassment on the campaign trail last year.
Obama replied, "No, no. I have been practising... I bowled a 129."

The audience roared with laughter, and the late-night talk show host assured Obama 'that's very good, Mr. President.' To which Obama interjected, "It's like - it was like Special Olympics, or something." '

Hilarious, I'm sure. But I'm not sure it was as big a gaffe as this:

Here is Obama 'reaching out to Iran', by issuing a message for the Iranian new year.

There is a lot wrong with this; my initial thought was, as he thanks Iranian-Americans for their contributions to the US, that the vast majority of them were fleeing the Iranian revolution and the birth of the Islamic republic which he is now urging 'respect' for.

Will Iran see this as a genuine move? I don't know. But I do know that I've met some ordinary Iranians, and found them to be kind, hospitable people.

However, I also know that secretly they despise the conditions in which they are forced to live, by the very people and beliefs for which Obama is now urging respect.

Respect is a lot like peace as a concept; it must be mutual, or it can't really exist at all. I look at the way Iran is governed and who it is governed by, and I'm afraid I don't see very much to respect at all.

When the Iranian government stops funding the deaths of our troops in Afghanistan, there might be some hope. When it opens its jails and releases women who have been punished for publicly displaying their hair, there might be some hope.

When the death penalty isn't advocated for apostasy and adultery, there might be some hope.
When Ahmadinejad apologises for his remarks regarding the destruction of Israel and recognises the country, there might be some hope.

But all of those things will be a long way off if Iran thinks it can continue them and still win 'respect' and concessions from the US; some cliched platitudes and a phrase or two in Farsi are not going to change the realities of international relations.


Derius said...

Earl Cromer,

I fear your analysis on Obama's speech to Iran misses a number of points. You might want to read this to clarify matters:


The consensus is that maybe Obama doesn't know what he is doing, but somebody at the State Dept certainly does.

The Venerable 1st Earl of Cromer said...


Thanks for the link, that's a very intriguing take on the situation.

I can only say that based on his performance so far, I took his appeal and some of his words at face value.

It did occur to me that most of the things he mentioned were the products of pre-Islamic Persian civilisation; I find the idea that someone at the State Dept. knew that too whilst letting Obama believe he was praising all things Muslim delightfully Machiavellian.

However, most of the Iranians I have spoken to have been somewhat 'schizophrenic' in identity terms.

They identify with and are rightfully proud of the pre-Islamic Persian civilisation; however many seem to see only the most negative aspects of Islam as 'Arab oppression' or foreign influence.

I do get the impression that many ordinary Iranians have had enough of the stricter rules and things are changing, so hopefully this will be allowed to manifest itself at the ballot box.