Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on April 2, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When one travels to a foreign nation, a head of state should receive some basic instruction on the correct name of his host. Unfortunately for Barack Obama, his “smart diplomacy” has begun to look like ignorant blundering. In the following clip from his joint appearance in the UK with Prime Minister Gordon Brown — in the kind of joint press conference Obama denied Brown in the US — Obama uses Britain and England interchangeably:

The thing I love about Great Britain is its people, and there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship that we have. We owe so much to England; that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, as well as difference, that makes it just a special place.

It’s not the first time Obama used “England” when he should have said Britain or the UK. When gassing on about how great health care is for single-payer countries, Obama repeatedly referred to Canada and “England”. What Obama does not know, and what the rest of the world does, is that England is only part of Britain, and has been for centuries. Great Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland, and one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.

But some will point out that Gordon Brown himself referred to “England” just before Obama. He did — but in reference to England’s football (soccer) team. Scotland and Wales have their own teams as well. All of them are British, but they represent the nations of Great Britain, which covers the entire island.

The Wall Street Journal noted this yesterday, and the particular insult Obama gave his host:

On Wednesday at a joint conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama made a pass at acknowledging the special relationship. Unfortunately, he inadvertently broke a cardinal protocol by at one stage using England to denote U.K.

“We owe so much to England; that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, as well as difference, that makes it just a special place,” he said, leaving Wales, Northern Ireland and Mr. Brown’s home country of Scotland out in the cold.

Could be worse. He could have given Brown a bunch of DVDs that won’t work in British sets as a state gift. Oh, wait ….

Update: People wonder why I left out Northern Ireland, but that would be the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or UK for short.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


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Great Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland, and one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.

Damn straight, laddie.

It’s amateur hour in the White House.

rbj on April 2, 2009 at 8:10 AM

Anyone else wondering how that conversation went down?

“Sorry about the DVDs. I can’t believe they don’t work here! You should consider doing something about that. But anyway, they’re totally fantastic movies, so why don’t you just go out and buy a region 1 DVD player?”

amkun on April 2, 2009 at 8:11 AM

This administration is embarrassing on the world stage.

ladyingray on April 2, 2009 at 8:11 AM

Hi, Ed

«Great Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland, and one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.»

Don’t forget Northern Ireland – the WSJ’s didn’t.
Greetings from Portugal.

Luis Cardoso on April 2, 2009 at 8:15 AM

I honestly thought Obama would be pretty good at this kind of symbolic fluffy stuff, but no. 100% buffoonery.

forest on April 2, 2009 at 8:15 AM

one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.

Indeed. There are Scots & Welsh who hate the English.

jgapinoy on April 2, 2009 at 8:16 AM

The thing I love about Great Britain is its people, and there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship that we have. We owe so much to England; that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, as well as difference, that makes it just a special place.

He must have been talking about the street protesters in London and how much like Chicago it seemed to him. Such affinity, such kinship, such familiarity.

BigD on April 2, 2009 at 8:17 AM

This mistake irks me to no end. It’s like Hillary’s statement that she doesn’t understand multi-party democracy. Aren’t the democrats supposed to be so more worldly? Seems like they don’t even understand the very basics. Where did they get themselves edumacated?

(And let me just add this: Yay! A football reference on HotAir!)

freemo on April 2, 2009 at 8:18 AM

Don’t forget Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain, it’s part of the UK.

Great Britain is just the name of the island with England, Scotland and Wales.

reaganaut on April 2, 2009 at 8:19 AM

NEVER confuse any liberal with the facts. Those are irrelevant as long as their savior can speak well, and is black.

DannoJyd on April 2, 2009 at 8:25 AM

Uh,uh…The thing I love about Great Britain is its people, uh and uh there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship that we have, uh. We owe so much to uh England; uh that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, uh, as well as difference, uh, that makes it just a special place.

FIFY, Ed.

Uh, Obama is, uh, such a great speaker, uh.

Disturb the Universe on April 2, 2009 at 8:26 AM

Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain, it’s part of the UK.

Absolutely right. Obama should have referred to the United Kingdom, not Great Britain which, as you point out, includes only England, Scotland and Wales and excludes Northern Ireland.

Trafalgar on April 2, 2009 at 8:27 AM

A bill was just passed in the House late last night that decrees that any American is allowed to use England, Briton and Great Briton interchangeably. They also ordered the rest of the world to adopt Region 1 DVD formats.

obama is doing fine.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2009 at 8:27 AM

We really need to forgive him these gaffes. The poor guy is tired and has a cold. heh

becki51758 on April 2, 2009 at 8:28 AM

but, but, but Harvard Law Review…magna cum laude…clean and articulate…

RepubChica on April 2, 2009 at 8:29 AM

there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship

an

Obviously, Obama did not impress Her Majesty with his use of the Queen’s English.

Disturb the Universe on April 2, 2009 at 8:30 AM

I don’t think it’s a mistake, Ogabe doesn’t like the British and I believe he means, at least on some level, to backhand them now and then.

Do I think that his interchanging of terms was intentional, no it’s just Ogabe being clueless, but he also just doesn’t care to make sure he gets it right.

Bishop on April 2, 2009 at 8:31 AM

Obama administration – restoring america’s image around the world to its ‘rightful’ place as a complete laughing stock

gatorboy on April 2, 2009 at 8:32 AM

FOX reported that he has not one but 12 teleprompters with him, and this is the best they can collectively do.

Disturb the Universe on April 2, 2009 at 8:32 AM

there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship
an

Obviously, Obama did not impress Her Majesty with his use of the Queen’s English.

Disturb the Universe on April 2, 2009 at 8:30 AM

I noticed that as well. Such a great speaker.

loudmouth883 on April 2, 2009 at 8:32 AM

It’s amateur hour in the White House.

rbj on April 2

At least Amateur Hour has amateurs trying their best. This is the freaking Gong Show!

SKYFOX on April 2, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Was anyone else kind of disturbed by how the Prime Minister has just been letting President Obama treat him like a door mat? No joint conference over here, crappy gifts, insists on joint conference over there, and the Prime Minister just laughs and laughs… If that’s how the UKs leader stands up for himself the empire may be in greater decline than I’d previously thought.

BadgerHawk on April 2, 2009 at 8:36 AM

The thing I love about Great Britain is its people, and there is just a extraordinary affinity and kinship that we have. We owe so much to England; that when you come here there’s that sense of familiarity, as well as difference, that makes it just a special place.

Leaving aside the rookie England=UK mistake, is what makes Great Britain “a special place” the fact that it is so much like Toledo, Ohio, with funny accents?

This is yet another window into Barack Obama’s unbounded narcissism. The important thing about a nation is how he, Barack Obama, reacts to it. “England” is familiar, and therefore special.

gridlock2 on April 2, 2009 at 8:38 AM

FOX reported that he has not one but 12 teleprompters with him, and this is the best they can collectively do.

Disturb the Universe on April 2, 2009 at 8:32 AM

Lawdy, now the ‘prompters are breeding. Pretty soon, Wes Craven will have to script Night of the Teleprompter to satisfy this butchery on presidential public speaking…

RepubChica on April 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM

At least Amateur Hour has amateurs trying their best. This is the freaking Gong Show!

SKYFOX on April 2, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Then hit the damn gong already and get him off the stage!

Maquis on April 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM

If that’s how the UKs leader stands up for himself the empire may be in greater decline than I’d previously thought.

The words “heaping hot coals upon their heads” comes to mind…

gridlock2 on April 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM

We need to hide this guy with Biden, he’s making America look so weak, It’s to the point that I feel like I/we should cover for his incompetence.

abinitioadinfinitum on April 2, 2009 at 8:42 AM

BadgerHawk on April 2, 2009 at 8:36 AM

Hey BH long time no see… ;)

doriangrey on April 2, 2009 at 8:44 AM

one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.

I am English, not British. Anyone can be british, apparently.

OldEnglish on April 2, 2009 at 8:45 AM

You’re mining gold here, Ed. And the ore vein is deep and rich.

SKYFOX on April 2, 2009 at 8:46 AM

Is Sarah Palin has said this, it would be all over SNL, Daily Show and Letterman.

CarolynM on April 2, 2009 at 8:47 AM

what of Obama insulting the Chinese by crossing his legs and exposing the bottom of his foot to Hu Jintao

gatorboy on April 2, 2009 at 8:49 AM

The adults amateurs are in charge now.

Of course, if Chimpy had pulled the same thing, the press would be out for blood right now.

BTW, heard a report overnight on C-BS Radio “News” about O’bama’s iPod gift to Queen Liz. Totally ignored the fact that he included his vanity tape on there.

Goebbels would be proud of them.

Del Dolemonte on April 2, 2009 at 8:49 AM

The last year, didn’t think I’d be saying this, but…”I miss Bush”. Will someone please send in the grownups?!?

bikermailman on April 2, 2009 at 8:50 AM

would Laura Bush make these mistakes? no. but she was just a hick from Midland Tx who was a schoolteacher.

kelley in virginia on April 2, 2009 at 8:51 AM

It’s amateur hour in the White House.

rbj on April 2, 2009 at 8:10 AM

How dare you imply that community organizers are amateurs.

Rovin on April 2, 2009 at 8:55 AM

You have to keep in mind that the reason Brown had a full blown press op with Barry is that Brown needs as much help as possible to be re-elected. So cynically he would be hoping to ride on Barry’s coat tails!

Mailman

mailman on April 2, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Hire a community organizer, get a community organizer, and a free iPod.

tarpon on April 2, 2009 at 8:58 AM

…and one can easily incur the wrath of the Scots and Welsh by calling them “English”.

Ahem. While we’re quibbling, punctuation in American English goes inside quotes, unlike in Great Britain, where your period should have gone outside.

Akzed on April 2, 2009 at 9:01 AM

doriangrey on April 2, 2009 at 8:44 AM

I’ve been around, though I’m working over 60 hours a week these days so it’s tougher to comment. It’s been you who’ve been MIA. Good to have you back.

BadgerHawk on April 2, 2009 at 9:04 AM

In his defense — and that is so out of character for me — his telepprompter wasn’t working. That’s pretty obvious from his stammering

ToddonCapeCod on April 2, 2009 at 9:14 AM

So do we blame him or the person doing the improv on the teleprompter?

It is so painful to watch this man speak without the teleprompter… almost as bad G.W. Bush.

krl on April 2, 2009 at 9:16 AM

That is very hard to listen to and follow. He is such a dolt.

WoosterOh on April 2, 2009 at 9:17 AM

I am English, not British. Anyone can be british, apparently.

OldEnglish

I am part English and part Irish. I am constantly checking my own pockets for bombs.
Also part German and boy does he hate those Brits.
Also part native American and he just wishes they would all go back home.

SKYFOX on April 2, 2009 at 9:18 AM

It’s amateur hour in the White House.

rbj

Longest damn hour ever, 4 years unless aborted via Impeachment on Constitutional grounds. Given Obama’s assorted abuses, pick a card, any card, and go with it.

maverick muse on April 2, 2009 at 9:25 AM

I need my coffee.

maverick muse on April 2, 2009 at 9:25 AM

SKYFOX on April 2, 2009 at 9:18 AM

LOL. I’m Saxon and Viking (11th century), so I guess I’m really German! Now I’m really confused! :)

OldEnglish on April 2, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Jeez. Early in my career (Oh God. That’s over 20 years ago now) I used to try to wing it when giving a speech to a group or a presentation to a customer. This is what I sounded like. Someone unprepared and in over my head. Now we’ve elected someone like this.

I used to wing it because I had tons of potential and everyone around me realized this and told me that I was great all of the time. It gave me an over-inflated view of myself and I felt as though I didn’t need to prepare because I was just that good. Does this profile sound familiar?

Hopefully, like me, he will realize that this is the big game now and you can’t just wing it. You’ve got to prepare. If he makes this realization he will manage to reduce the gaffes. If not, the Obamaturism of the day will live on forever.

watson007 on April 2, 2009 at 9:29 AM

krl on April 2, 2009 at 9:16 AM

I thought that Bush was no longer president.

Johan Klaus on April 2, 2009 at 9:35 AM

The Emperor hath no clothes smarts.

But the great fawning MSM will drape his naked gaffes in a seamless cone of silence so successfully that it makes him the mocha Maxwell Smart.

Missed by that much.”

profitsbeard on April 2, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Oh give the man a break. He is just too smart for the job.

Spectreman on April 2, 2009 at 10:12 AM

All that money that his grandma spent sending him to that private high school is Hawaii was a total waste.

myrenovations on April 2, 2009 at 10:27 AM

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

Limerick on April 2, 2009 at 10:35 AM

This from a guy who lead the Annenberg project to improve education in Chicago.

No wonder it failed. He is as dumb as a bucket of rocks.

UltimateBob on April 2, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Uh. . . uh. . . mmm. . . uh. . .

For a guy who is so young, cool, and with-it, he looks like bloody hell in this clip, because of what–a little jet lag? I worked nights for years, and I had “jet lag” after every stinkin’ shift. This guy needs to suck it up.

labwriter on April 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM

This administration is embarrassing on the world stage.

ladyingray on April 2, 2009 at 8:11 AM

This administration would be an embarrassment on a vaudeville stage. Traveling small-town carnival act: 24/7.

Yoop on April 2, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Great Britain has existed since 1707; the UK, since 1801. So, Barry can’t claim he didn’t know.

youngTXcon on April 2, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Wales, tails, somebody stole my tails.

Give this man (Obama) a shot of English whiskey! It might give him some brains!

Steve Z on April 2, 2009 at 11:16 AM

I think I can see British from the White House! – Barry Obama

Wyznowski on April 2, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Would think that everyone in Harvard and Columbia is starting to doubt their precious universities. Sure lifts the credentials of someone who was educated, say, at the University of Idaho!

Christian Conservative on April 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Damn, I’m British and that is just to complex for me.

Tim Burton on April 2, 2009 at 1:00 PM

British in genetics, not nation of origin.

Tim Burton on April 2, 2009 at 1:02 PM

I still can’t get over the DVDs and now the Ipod. When will he just give someone of his many treasured teleprompters.

SC.Charlie on April 2, 2009 at 1:17 PM

If we are going to be pedantic then please note that the terms ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘Great Britain’ and the ‘British Isles’ are not interchangeable and Mr Obama should probably have referred only to the United Kingdom.

The full term is ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.

‘Great Britain’ includes only Scotland, England and Wales.

‘United Kingdom’ refers to the association of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England under a single monarch.

‘British Isles’ includes the Crown territories of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands but these are not part of the UK, GB or the EU although the inhabitants thereof are for many purposes considered to be British citizens.

Strictly speaking the ‘British Isles’ is a geographic term and also includes the Republic of Ireland (Ireland in its whole being the second largest of the British Isles) but some Irish people don’t like this use of the term.

In fairness to Mr Obama, most British people, and perhaps the English in particular, have only a vague grasp of these matters themselves.

YiZhangZhe on April 2, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Exactly, YiZhangZhe.

Here are the steps:

England is just England.

Britain is England and Wales.

Great Britain is England, Wales and Scotland.

The United Kingdom (full title: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The British Isles includes England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

It may be confusing, but this is (at the latest) college level stuff and _somebody_ in his cabinet should have coached him on the differences.

This man is an ignorant fool.

Theophile on April 2, 2009 at 4:44 PM

the English in particular, have only a vague grasp of these matters themselves.

YiZhangZhe on April 2, 2009 at 1:39 PM

That’s because we grabbed all the other bits, one way or another. :)

OldEnglish on April 2, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Uh…uh…uh…uh…special place.

Orator of the century!

Tzetzes on April 2, 2009 at 6:39 PM

or a guy who is so young, cool, and with-it, he looks like bloody hell in this clip, because of what–a little jet lag? I worked nights for years, and I had “jet lag” after every stinkin’ shift. This guy needs to suck it up.

But by his own admission he was dazed and confused in HS.

“Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though,”

Can you imagine this jug-eared, blue lipped, goober giving a speech while high on chronic???

Fed45 on April 3, 2009 at 3:07 AM