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April 5, 2009

Handily Erasing George Bush

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This caption translation from the Stern website is sort of a mess, but you get the message:

It is this ease and courtesy with which the young U.S. president to open the human heart: Barack Obama welcomed the security guard with a handshake, while he and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown enters the seat of government.

This reminds me of numerous images I’ve seen in the domestic press showing Obama warmly acknowledging African-American attendants at the White House. The reaching out from England’s gates of power and the face of warm reciprocation speaks to Obama’s humility, a trait which seems to have largely rinsed Europe of the Bush toxicity in all of one week.

(image: Toby Melville/Reuters. April 1, 2009. caption: President Barack Obama shakes hands with a British police officer outside 10 Downing Street, as world leaders gathered in London for the G20 summit)

  • d

    Hi Bag,
    Great photo. Here’s another translation for the caption:
    “It is this nonchalance and courtesy with which the young US President wins people’s hearts: Barack Obama greets the guard with a handshake as he steps into Downing Street with PM Gordon Brown.”
    In German, “Höflichkeit” is a much bigger word than just “courtesy”, though: it’s also politeness, courtliness, comity–even suavity, but with a positive inflection.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/Serr8d Serr8d

    Well, at least there’s no bowing and scraping in this one. Unlike..

  • d

    Gosh, are you implying that our president is somehow not a real and genuine American???! Gee whillikers, I never heard that before! You should have found some way to bring this Really Important Point to our attention before the election!!! If only most Americans had only known…!!!
    Now it’s too late, and it looks like we’re stuck with an unamerican President to rescue us from financial collapse and military quagmire. I’ll be he might not even wear an American flag on his lapel pin every day! On the other hand, he might have a flag painted on Air Force One… and there might be an American flag or two somewhere in his house. (Which would be the White House.) So maybe these flags will help him to become a True Blue American just like you and me. And maybe golly gee after he learns to Stand Up American Proud he’ll look to his Worthy Predecessor, former President George W. Bush, for guidance on how to show those Saudis who’s REALLY boss!
    Maybe I’ll do a quick internet search, just to check up on how President Bush gave Saudi Royalty What For. “My Way or the Highway!” he told them, I’m sure! Heh heh heh, I can’t WAIT to find out what sort of whalloping President Bush gave the Saudis.
    And I’ll bet he helped to Secure American Interests in the Middle East for All Time, too!!
    hold on, hold on, I am finding stories and evidence that does not seem to quite fit…. help, my simple world view is collapsing… help! help! help!
    …..

  • Tena

    One of the things that has impressed me the most about Obama is that he and the First Lady went into this with eyes wide open. They knew that if they won the election, Obama was going to become less human, more of a symbol, and I think they knew how very much would be placed on him as the first African American president. Yet, they remain themselves. They are the most genuine people I’ve seen in the White House. Her gesture toward the queen was so typically Michelle – I love the way they touch people – I love that. It’s endearing and to me expresses the very best of America – the kind of uncalculated, almost naive openness that I know is a million miles from naive. There’s no way the Obamas could be naive people and have accomplished so much. I guess basically I’ve never seen such grace – physical grace and non-physical grace.
    I’m so proud that they are our faces overseas. The last 8 years was such an ordeal.

  • Tena

    Ahem. At least he isn’t strolling through the rose garden with the Saudi prince, hand in hand.

  • http://unclegerald.blogspot.com Jerry

    I read something by AA Gill that said that Gordon Brown walked right by the Policeman. Explanation: he didn’t see him. Gill claims that what Obama showed was ‘classless class’ whereas Brown showed ‘class’.

  • Progresssive Mom

    To d…
    Thank you for that refreshing response…perfect, right down to the gee whillikers….
    On the photo: many people, and not all of them U.S. citizens, seem to respond to the Obamas in a personal way, as if they are personally invested in the Obamas’ success. The smile on the policeman says it all. That the Obamas are responding in kind is nothing short of magnificent. It is far too easy, I assume, to start believing your own press coverage and, so far, the First Couple seem to have avoided that. Human first; leader of the free world second. Nice.

  • dada

    No, no, no.
    Not bowing.
    Discussing their shoes.

  • yg

    unlike bush who wasn’t above giving saudi royals a little tongue.

  • yg

    bravo to melville for catching the moment. what other couple in politics connects in this way on a personal emotional as well as intellectual level?
    on a separate note, and not that this should be held as determinative, but i found it interesting to learn in one of my classes that there are black families in europe who can trace their lineage as far back as the middle ages.

  • yg

    this isn’t just warm fuzzies, there is something subversive about it. it’s like a quiet call to fight the power.

  • LanceThruster

    The photo makes me smile. The President quite often makes me smile. The previous Potus (the Thief in Chief) made me wince and grind my teeth a lot.

  • Linda

    While President Obama displays the best of American, you display the worst of America.
    I am proud to have a President that sees a security guard as a person. American’s that were not full of hate instill by the likes of Shaun Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin saw Obama’s treatment of people on the campaign trail.
    Obama’s mother and Grandparents Dunham did an excellent job of raising a truly remarkable human being.
    I have great hopes that Obama will be able to improve the relations with the Muslim world.

  • thomas

    In Saudi culture walking arm in arm or holding hands is extremely common between trusted friends, irrespective of gender. Bush was a uncultured idiot in almost every respect but his holding hands with Saudis was an absolutely appropriate diplomatic gesture. As it will be when Obama does it.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156ef9bfff970c bensansum

    The ‘guard’ is a member of the Metropolitan Police, which just ten years ago was described by a huge and detailed report as ‘institutionally racist’, following failings in the investigation into the murder of a young black man by four white racists. The policeman in the picture seems old enough to either have been in the force at that time, or at least to have joined when it was still a hugely important factor in the management of the force.
    Knowing this the unrestrained, beaming smile on the mixed-race policemans face, as he meets the worlds most visible symbol* of the ongoing battle against racism, is unsurprising.
    *(and yes, I agree, Obama is a symbol to the UK, as much as a living breathing politician.)

  • http://www.largegreenbird.blogspot.com Green Eagle

    I hope the Europeans are not too ready to forget about Bush. I know I’m not.
    To paraphrase Santayana, “He who forgets who got us into this mess is doomed to end up right back here in a few years.”

  • yg

    To paraphrase Santayana, “He who forgets who got us into this mess is doomed to end up right back here in a few years.”
    this is why rush, glenn beck and michelle bachmann are inadvertently useful. reminds people how wacked out the right is.

  • Tena

    that comment was out of place – it was meant as a reply to the comment about the bow.
    It got put in the wrong place. I understand the custom, just as I understand what Obama was doing.

  • http://palau-island.blogspot.com Palau

    I didn’t know barrack bow for the saudi royalty..
    but no matter what, barrack is definitely better than bush..

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