Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A thorn in our side
Bush, Rice meet with EU leaders

Photo: Der Spiegel/DPA

As if we needed any further proof that our commander-in-chief just doesn't get it, President George W. Bush flicked off protests by tens of thousands in Vienna -- where he and his secretary of state are meeting with European Union leaders, in order to make an ill-advised remark on the gender of the U.S. secretary of state and the Austrian foreign minister. While the remark itself wasn't blatantly offensive, one might term it as exhibiting the soft bigotry of low expiation. Herewith, from Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times:

[Bush's] visit, aimed at expanding trade and spotlighting unity, was marked by protests and calls within Europe for United States to shut down its detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Vienna today carrying banners reading "World's No. 1 Terrorist," a reference to Mr. Bush, whose policies on Iraq remain hugely unpopular here.
Stolberg reports that Austrian President Heinz Fischer greeted Bush at the great palace of the Hapsburg emperors, in a room that was once the bed chamber of the Empress Maria Theresia:
The two shook hands for the cameras, standing between Secretary Rice and her Austrian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

"This is called thorns between the roses," Mr. Bush quipped.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Photo by Josie Duckett, courtesy U.S. Dept. of State

Now, your blogstress is the first to admit that Plassnik is perhaps the hottest creature ever to grace the diplomatic stage, while Condi possesses a certain dominatrix appeal.

But while it is perfectly appropriate for your blogstress to assess and pronounce upon such things -- indeed, it is her job -- there is something unseemly and condescending about the ostensible leader of the nominally free world doing so.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik

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