President Obama came, he saw, he insulted.In defense of Obama, I have to tell the French to put on their big boy undies.
“Obama insults Sarkozy,” blared the headline on one French website, taking umbrage at Mr. Obama’s wayward remark at the G-20 summit here about the physical appearance of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr. Obama thought he was making a gentle joke about Mr. Sarkozy, host of the summit, when he congratulated Mr. Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni on the birth of their baby daughter on Oct. 19. Instead, Mr. Obama caused a minor international incident.
“I want to make mention that this is our first meeting since the arrival of the newest Sarkozy, and so I want to congratulate Nicolas and Carla on the birth of Giulia,” Mr. Obama told reporters shortly after his arrival at the G-20, with Mr. Sarkozy at his side. “And I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s, which I think is an excellent thing.”
He added, “And so now we share one of the greatest challenges and blessings of life, and that is being fathers to our daughters.”
Mr. Sarkozy, who is said to be very conscious about his looks, did not appear greatly amused by the comment, and some observers who attended the meeting said Mr. Obama’s remark fell flat.
The French president, who has three sons from two previous marriages, later told reporters, “You see the great influence of Barack Obama. It’s been four years now he tells me to be a father of girls is fantastic, he has two. So I listened and followed his example.”
But Mr. Obama’s remarks, intended as a compliment for the French president’s glamorous wife, ended up in the eyes of some Frenchmen as tagging their leader as an ugly man. France took notice.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Even I, No Fan of President Obama, Can't Fault Him For This
Perhaps the French don't make such remarks--and if that's the case, then it's yet another in a long string of State Department protocol failures--but even if it's a faux pas, there would be no reason that Obama himself (absent protocol briefing) should know: