How Embarrassing! (And I Don’t Mention The iPod Once . . . Not Once!)

Okay, so I wasn’t proud when George Bush, Sr. tossed his cookies on that Japanese Prime Minister, and I was pretty embarrassed when George Bush, Jr. winked at the Queen of England that time, but I have to say that Obama and his wife are right up there in cringe-making with their behavior in London yesterday. I remember writing about Obama’s raving on and on about the luxurious interior of a private jet that he’d accepted a ride in back when he was even more naive than he is now (um, two, maybe three years ago), so at least he wasn’t “ooh’ing” and “ahhh’ing” over the sumptuous decor at Buckingham Palace like some kind of . . . well, like some kind of caricature of George W. Bush.

But why did both he and his wife have to grab the Queen of England with both hands? And why did his wife have to put her arm around her and then later hug her? I know people are saying, quite rightly it seems from the vid, that the Queen initiated the grope fest by placing her arm across Michelle Obama’s back, but I honestly don’t see that she (the Queen) had much choice with MO inching in and looming over her as she did; we’ve all been forced to touch people who invade our space. She’s far more adept and familiar with the whole being a world leader thing (having been monarch since before Barack was born), and I am sure that she was being polite and dignified, and hoping to waylay some of the bad press that MO’s action would have engendered had she not. But I am just a bit old-fashioned about things, I guess, and I find this bumpkin behavior from our president and his wife totally embarrassing.

And as kind of an aside here: why was MO wearing that hideous sleeveless shift this early in April? Who goes bare-armed to formal state functions? Or is that okay now? I lost track when the “no white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day” rule was tossed out. I totally loathe Michelle Obama’s “style,” and find it embarrassing that she always looks so frumpy and disheveled (can’t we afford to buy her a travel iron or steamer? I’d rather my tax money went to that than to most of her hubby’s take over the world policies). And I do like JCrew, so I’m not dissing that store (heck, I have a LOT of JCrew in my own wardrobe), but I just think that it’s ridiculous to compare Michelle Obama to Jackie Kennedy as so many people seem compelled to do–much to MO’s detriment, I think, holding her up next to Jackie O does nothing to improve MO’s image, just makes her look dowdier and frumpier than she usually does. Jackie Kennedy had style and grace and carried herself with dignity; Michelle Obama has a JCrew catalogue to guide her fashion choices (they conveniently put outfits together for you, like GrrAnimals), galumphs about like a huge ungainly horse, and carries herself awkwardly (she never seems to know what to do with her hands and flaps them about when she’s not clutching them in front of her–maybe to keep them from flying out and grabbing passersby?). I just can’t stand Michelle Obama, though, never have been able to. At least her husband is elegant and charming in his naivete; he’s got that going for him.

Back to the mauling the Queen thing: I hug my friends when I see them or when we are parting . . . maybe do the “kiss, kiss” thing if we’re not that great of friends. I shake hands with people when I must (and that’s tricky because as a woman, I’m not really expected to extend my hand in most circumstances–and quite honestly am not comfortable doing so; good thing I’m not a head of state . . . or married to one). I think that I may have hugged Wendy the first day that I met her, but that was different, we’d been on each other’s blogs for well over a year at that point, and we felt like we knew each other as a result. I don’t think seeing a documentary of the Queen and seeing her face on postage stamps is quite the same familiarity builder.

Sure, some people are touchy people, they love to put their arm around you or touch your thigh or arm when they tell a joke. I’m not a big toucher of people that I don’t know, so it’s not my favorite thing about other people–I don’t understand the need to touch people you don’t know very well. But I do like that I can predict with near 100% accuracy that no one is going to put their arm around me or (yikes!) hug me within hours of meeting me. That’s just not done. Or it shouldn’t be. It’s a terrible liberty to take with someone you don’t know, and anyone who’s owned a television over the last thirty or so years (maybe longer, but I can’t remember that far back) knows that touching the Queen is not proper behavior. Heck, I think they–the Queen flunkies in charge of ensuring that Her Majesty is not molested by visitors–talk to you for hours before you meet her, and they tell you to keep your hands off her. Doesn’t seem too much to ask.

And how hard can it be to remember not to fondle the Queen of England? I mean really? She doesn’t seem like the come give me a big hug and cuddle type, so why not have a little respect, if not for her position then at least for her own boundaries and sensibilities? I just don’t get it. If President or Laura Bush did these things, we’d hear nothing but what a rube and idiot he or she is, but because it’s the golden couple, it’s okay, it’s more than okay, it’s downright sweet! Give me Bush, Sr. vomiting on someone any day, at least that wasn’t down to him being unpolished, tacky, and disrespectful.

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15 thoughts on “How Embarrassing! (And I Don’t Mention The iPod Once . . . Not Once!)

  1. i hadn’t seen or heard about that. i am a big believer in personal space, so that would have made me cringe, too. i wonder if it was somehow a misguided attempt to appear less prickly. whatever, it sounds bizarre to me because the queen doesn’t give the impression of a real touchy-feely kind of person, even with her own family. weird.

  2. I almost posted the vid, but thought everyone would be sick of seeing it by now. But I am the idiot who watches the news even though it pisses me off more often than not.And yeah, it IS weird. I saw a documentary on PBS about the royals, and part of it talked about how dysfunctional they are, that the Queen wasn’t demonstrative with her children and they suffered as a result. Pretty sad, really. But not really my business. The first lady manhandling her, however, is my business because she is supposed to be representing all of us.

  3. i occasionally glance at local news, but i’ve been avoiding pretty much all others since the election. i just can’t take it. all i seem to be able to handle is celebrity news, otherwise i just get depressed.

  4. Not sure if this is relevant here, but the first thing that popped into my head while reading this was dogs. They do that king of “look: I put my paw on your shoulder to show you that I am dominating you. Am I being clear? “. Gloria, can you please come in and back me up? You probably know dog behaviour better than any of us here. I also don’t like my personal space intruded, and usually tell people off when they do get too close, bumping into (and occasionally breaking right through) my imaginary barrier. I have no mercy (And not as well behaved as her majesty. LOL) !

  5. “I almost posted the vid, but thought everyone would be sick of seeing it by now. But I am the idiot who watches the news even though it pisses me off more often than not.”I have been pretty much on news blackout for a few days so I must confess I missed any coverage about this, but I do find it difficult to get vexed about it. Having read your blog, I did have a quick look around the British media, normally the first to whine about ‘breaches of protocol’ and still smarting from perceived slights about Brown’s visit to Washington, but could find very little venting. It is another example to me of small issues being microscopically and forensically picked apart, especially when the meeting, from what I have read, went very well.I am not a fan of Michelle Obama’s style either, and comparisons with the iconic Jackie Kennedy are off the mark in my opinion. It is sad though that women in the political sphere are so often attacked over their looks and style. We had this big thing here when Sarkozy visited with his ex-model wife, Carla Bruni, where some newspapers were comparing the female ministers in the government (frumpy) to Sarkozy’s ministers (elegant, stylish), like this is supposed to have some kind of relevance. Even tonight, when I was browsing The Times site there is a slideshow of the G20 WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends); essentially lots of shots of rather dowdy looking women contrasted with a shot of Carla Bruni in a backless dress, hair flailing like some L’Oreal advert, in front of the drooling paparazzi. How patronising is that?As an aside, I did just watch Obama’s post G20 press conference, and boy does he “Hmmm” and “errr” alot. I never noticed that during the debates for the presidential or primary campaigns. Is this what all the right wing blogs have been wittering on about teleprompters for?

  6. Oh, yikes! YOU.DON’T.TOUCH.THE.MONARCHY. PERIOD. Good LORD… Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of White House briefing on this sort of thing? I mean, the English and those of English descent grow pale at such a blunder, but you would think there would be some sort of protocol prodding prior to visiting dignitaries in their homelands. GAHH!!Fanta {waves enthusiastically at Fanta!!} hit the nail on the head as far as dogs establishing dominance by putting their paws on another dog’s shoulder – something admittedly did not come to mind until I saw what Fanta wrote, but it is SO TRUE! Aren’t we supposed to have at least a two foot radius of personal space around us, and to violate that space without invitation is a major intrusion even to us commoners (heaven only knows what the Queen must have thought!) Also, I agree with the consensus that Michelle Obama needs a fashion coordinator. I read somewhere that she works hard exercising her upper arms and this may be why she prefers sleeveless outfits.Ah well. 🙂

  7. Hey Fanta!! Good point about the dog thing, I hadn’t even thought about that. And yes, I’m not quite as nice about invasions of my personal space as her majesty was . . . had to laugh at that!! :))

  8. Fabi, I do see what you mean about this being a comparatively small thing for bloggers (myself included) to write or care about, but it’s symptomatic, to my mind, of the unfair and blinkered treatment that the O’s get in comparison with other presidents (and world leaders). This really was a horrible breach of ettiquette and manners, and it wouldn’t be acceptable on a “girl’s night out” for some new person to inch into my space, put her arm around me, and caress my back. I’d be horrified, frankly. And I honestly was (and am) embarrassed that they don’t know how to behave properly (same, as I say, when Bush winked at the Queen, that’s no way to act, either, though I guess that was a bit more “charming” to some people). As to WAG’s in more general terms, I’m really not familiar with European politics to that extent. My complaint here is not so much that she’s not a model or doesn’t look or carry herself like one but that she’s downright sloppy. More often than not her clothes are wrinkled and pooch out in all the wrong places and make her look dowdy and frumpy and disheveled. No one can call Barbara or Laura Bush models, and Barbara Bush is a bit frumpy and matronly to boot. But the difference is that their clothes were immaculate and “hung” on them properly–they knew how to dress their not quite ready for Top Model bodies. It doesn’t help that I absolutely abhor MO, so I admit that has a lot to do with it. But hearing her compared favorably to Jackie Kennedy is just the final straw for me. MO’s a train wreck at every turn, and that comparison merely emphasizes in my mind all of her fashion failings.A lot of right wing bloggers call him D’OhBama because of his stuttering and stammering and uhhh’s and ohhh’s (well, there’s probably another layer or two of meaning there, come to think of it). Anyway, the teleprompter thing was a separate incident entirely (or really a few different instances, all available on YouTube; I was going to grab the vid of the recent flap-creating teleprompter crash, but there seem to be a lot of them, dating back to early campaign days). His teleprompter goes out, and he ceases to function . . . he can’t carry on his point or figure out where he was and he doesn’t recover well (at all). Instead, he stammers and stutters and makes lame jokes about how tired he is. I haven’t said much on that because all presidents and candidates use teleprompters, so that’s not the big deal or even the point. It’s already evident that Obama is best in scripted situations–letting that man talk off the top of his head is a disaster. Not just the stuttering and space fillers, but he’s an idiot–witness the stupid crap about guns and religion to the San Fran audience, the redistribution of wealth comment to Joe the Plumber, his bizarre behavior after Palin was nominated, and on and on. He’s certainly not the first president we’ve had who doesn’t deal well with pressure or who says dumb things, but I guess it’s just that no one can seem to grasp that he’s not the be all and end all they thought he was, so all this gets a lot of attention as people on the right try to make people see that he’s often just as stupid, if not more so, than Bush could be. I’ve always said Obama ran an excellent campaign, and I fear that is where his talents and abilities lie. That and pushing his crazy agendas on us and getting people to back them enthusiastically. We’re sinking, he’s throwing us a concrete lifevest, and America is donning it in their blind faith in little more than a snake oil salesman. It’s sad. And terrifying.

  9. Weee! Hey there GG, good points on the dog thing, too. I am so with you on the you don’t touch the monarchy thing; it’s just not done. Period. And our president and his wife should know better and behave better. You didn’t see Hillary Clinton mauling the Queen or even clasping the Queen’s hand in BOTH of hers. Ugh!And really, I don’t care if MO’s exercising her arms or not. Well, maybe that’s a good thing, if she started exercising her abs, she’d show up in Halle Berry dresses and humiliate us all (even more).

  10. Fabi, I was back on YouTube looking for some likely links and found these:


    And here’s the Huffington Post article on Obama’s excessive reliance on teleprompters:http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090305/pl_politico/19663He uses them, according to HP, more than any other president, but given the fact that he can’t speak well without them, I guess that’s okay. But all this does speak to the idea that he’s not the soaring orator that people take him to be, at least not without a script. It does make me wonder if the press had covered him with the diligence that they covered Bush’s every mispoken phrase or mispronounced word if he would have this aura about him. Left wing bloggers go on and on about how articulate and urbane, how sophisticated he is, but to my mind, he’s a good actor. If he’s had time to learn his lines, practice his speech, and has it there for him on a teleprompter, he’s brilliant. Otherwise, not so much. Cutting through the delivery has been my goal all along, and I think that reading his words is a much better way to figure out what he’s about. I wish everyone would have read his speeches instead of hearing them, in some ways. They’re actually quite painful to read, littered with cliche’s and poetic nonsense “I hear with heavy heart,” they are over dramatic and lacking in any real substance. The only time he said anything concrete, really, was when he talked about Afghanastan, his vision of a “civilian national security force,” and on redistribution of wealth. Even his health care and education reform ideas were either someone else’s (Hillary Clinton’s) or so vague and ill-formed as to be meaningless.

  11. I just get the impression the American press are making more of an issue about this breach of protocol than either the British press or the Palace. Two articles I read, both in right leaning papers [The Times & The Daily Mail] were both incredibly relaxed about it. Here's the Fox News equivalent in our print media [Daily Mail] on the topic:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1166490/Ones-new-best-friend-The-Queen-Michelle-new-touchy-feely-protocol.htmlThanks for the info on the teleprompter stuff. I have seen lots of blogs and Tweets that have mentioned it, but could not be bothered to look into what everyone was complaining about.

  12. The mainstream media are not making a fuss at all; they are thrilled that MO was so “popular” with the Queen and are shrugging off any impropriety as “well, she’s an American, what do you expect?” (not the best retort, but there you have it). The right is not happy about it. I am not happy about it.And no problem on the teleprompter thing; it’s more minutae, in a way, but again, indicative of his flaws. He’s inarticulate without his scripts, and that’s just um, erm, eh fact.

  13. In terms of the MSM I was really just echoing a comment I read in The Times that it was more the American media that had got excited about this. Interestingly, after reading your blog and doing a Google search for the incident, one of the first links that came up was a Fox News piece. Perhaps attention will be deflected from MO’s faux pas though, as our press seem to have the Italians in their sights now:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1166820/We-offended-Queen-plays-clash-Berlusconi-G20-photoshoot.htmlI am just waiting for Sarkozy to accidentally elbow the Queen in the face now! 😉

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