Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Being Presidential

So Obama went to Jamaica, and being a civilized person, opened a speaking event with, "Greetings massive.  Wah gwan, Jamaica?"  (I believe that says roughly, "Hello, everyone.  What's going on, Jamaica?")  Now look at all those grinning faces.  That is the "Oh hey WOW this foreigner is a PERSON!" face.  That's the face I got whenever I said so much as "Hello" in the local language.  (Well, except in Tblisi, where the Georgians were completely flabbergasted first.)  It's a way of being a polite guest, and showing respect for the local hosts.  And then they see you as a person, not just a tourist they have to put up with.

Here we have a fundamental disagreement about what it means to be Presidential.  For me, it's about leading by example, getting the job done, and part of that job is diplomacy.  You can't get other countries to go along with your ideas, or get them to pony up their good ideas for you to share, if they think you're a dick because you're acting like a dick.  Leadership requires mutual respect and cooperation.  Conversely, some people view being President as all about force.  Never giving an inch, making people do what you want whether it is good for them or not.  That way causes more problems than it solves.

*wist*  Imagine how much progress in world diplomacy could have been made if President Obama had been free to do things like this all along.
Tags: ethnic studies, linguistics, news, politics
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