Hey, it’s not like they’re a close ally and a keystone of our eastern European policy. The only person angrier than the Poles tonight, incidentally: Ed Morrissey, who’s being deprived of a golden Obamateurism item for tomorrow morning. Sorry, buddy!
The bad news? This isn’t the only dumb, offensive thing that a prominent Democrat has said about Poland this week. The worse news? When I say he’s alienated Poland, I don’t mean he’s alienated a few bloggers in Warsaw or the editorial page of some partisan newspaper. The outrage goes to the very top:
“The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted. Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald “Tusk will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.”…
“A Polish death camp” — Sikorski also tonight tweeted a link to an Economist story noting that “few things annoy Poles more than being blamed for the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers of their homeland. For many years, Polish media, diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder. Unfortunately this seems to have escaped BaracK Obama’s staff seem not to have noticed this.”…
Alex Storozynski, the President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, lauded the president earlier in the day for recognizing Karski, but now says “Karski would have cringed if he heard this….So far, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and others have changed their stylebooks to ban the use of this phrase. Now, the Obama White House must do the same. President Obama’s remarks are already being called ‘scandalous’ by media outlets in Poland. Obama was seen reading this phrase off a teleprompter. The President must acknowledge his mistake and apologize for it. He must do it for Karski and the other Poles that risked their lives trying to stop the Holocaust.”
BuzzFeed has a round-up of Polish Twitter reaction, and it ain’t pretty. Here comes White House spokesman Tommy Vietor a-grovelin’:
National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor tells BuzzFeed: “The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.”
In a second comment, Vietor said: “The President misspoke – he was referring to Nazi death camps in Poland. We regret this misstatement, which should not detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski and those brave citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny.”
The fact that Vietor felt obliged to issue a second, more apologetic statement shows you how badly the White House was caught off-guard by the fury of the backlah. I’d bet cash money that both Tusk and Sikorski have personal phone calls from the Unicorn Prince coming in the near future, assuming they haven’t happened already.
In fairness to O, I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply anything about Polish culpability for the Holocaust at a moment when he was honoring a Polish hero for helping to expose the Holocaust. But since that wouldn’t have stopped a collective liberal pants-wetting if Bush had made the same gaffe, we must press boldly on and rub The One’s face in this. Go nuts.