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President Obama’s Trip Overseas Not Easy

April 8, 2009

It may look easy, but the trips abroad by a President of the United States can be very long, arduous, and frustrating.  Even coughing can make for a news story.

For the U.S. president, it may not have been the most pleasant of trips. He battled a cold all week, at one point leaning over in his limousine to hack as first lady Michelle Obama patted his back and whispered in his ear. He told reporters he felt like he had an acorn up his nose.

The lavish attention, successive rings of security and speed didn’t make for relaxed sight-seeing. After a Heidelberg student, Enis Otto, told him his name is Hungarian for “peach,” the young German asked Mr. Obama on Friday if he ever regretted his run for the presidency.

“It used to be when I came to Europe, that I could just wander down to a café and sit and have some wine and watch people go by, and go into a little shop, and watch the sun go down. Now I’m in hotel rooms all the time,” Mr. Obama lamented.

Before a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in Prague, Mr. Obama appeared befuddled by a staged photo opportunity, at which photographers were instructed to assemble in a hallway, walk 20 feet, stop, and wait for the two men to walk toward the media. Once they got halfway there, the photographers were supposed to turn around, walk back (but not backward) another 20 feet, and wait for the leaders to come toward the pool.

“I think we’re supposed to walk towards them,” Mr. Obama told the Spaniard dubiously, as the choreography came apart.

But beyond the first lady’s gentle touch of Queen Elizabeth II’s back, there were no obvious protocol breaches, faux pas, trips, gaffes or Ugly Americanisms — even after eight exhausting days.

Even the queen was sympathetic. After hearing the first couple’s first-day itinerary, she exclaimed, “You’re just trying to stay awake!”

  1. April 8, 2009 6:55 PM


    He interacted a great deal with the locals, and even had one-on-one answer periods with them as he did with Americans during the campaign. As an example….

    Before he left, Obama toured some of Istanbul’s famous landmarks,. accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They visited the famed Hagia Sofia and the nearby Blue Mosque.

    Earlier in the day, Obama met religious leaders, namely representatives of Islam, the Jewish faith, and various Christian churches at his hotel.

    After the tourist tour, Obama met Turkish university students, where he was open to questions. He was expected to carry forward the theme of his earlier speeches, namely that the United States wants to turn a new page in its relations with Muslims.

  2. Patrick permalink
    April 8, 2009 6:36 PM

    I wish Mr. Obama was more curious. I think it demonstrates a real softness–like the one some have pointed to in Mr. Bush–that he didn’t take time for random wandering where he could better get to know the locals. What a shame.

  3. Thomas J Canton permalink
    April 8, 2009 4:07 PM

    Well, okay he did nominate “Kumar” to do something or other in the White House. I guess that could be considered an accomplishment.

  4. Thomas J Canton permalink
    April 8, 2009 3:21 PM

    “No obvious protocol breaches”. You make this sound like the President took a stroll in the Park, stumbled on a tree root but he is alright now.

    THE MAN BLEW OFF NORMANDY!!!! So, he would not offend the Germans.

    Please President Obama, pal, if you are afraid of offending people we have had conflicts with in the past please don’t visit Ground Zero because that would offend Radical Muslims, the Vietnam Veterans wall, because hey, that might offend the North Vietnamese. The tomb of the Unknowns, well that offends every enemy we have ever had in the 223 years we have been a republic.

    The Lincoln Memorial, there’s one that might offend decendants of the Confederacy. The Washington Memorial, well that would upset the British.

    Holy political correctness to the extreme Batman!!!!

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