Isn’t that the way politics goes? One day, you’re someone’s “son of a whore,” and the next day you’re someone’s bestest buddy ever. Philippine president Roberto Duterte reportedly has had second thoughts about calling Barack Obama names … or at least his spokesman has reconsidered:
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed regret over his “son of a bitch” remark while referring to President Obama.
In a statement read out by his spokesman, Duterte said his “strong comments” to certain questions by a reporter “elicited concern and distress; we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president.”
Duterte made the remarks Monday before flying to Laos to attend a regional summit.
Duterte issued the insults to avoid answering challenges to extrajudicial killings by Philippine security forces in both anti-drug and anti-terrorist operations. The irony of this is that Duterte more or less put the issue on the international political map. Hardly anyone outside of the State Department and the White House thought this was a big issue until Duterte’s rant. Now everyone‘s covering it, and Duterte has no one but himself to blame.
Small wonder the White House says that Duterte won’t get back on Obama’s schedule. Besides the obvious need to put a price on diplomatic insults, it’s basically mission accomplished for the Obama administration:
The White House said it would not reschedule a canceled bilateral meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte after he called President Obama a “son of a bitch” then said he regretted the remark.
“I would not expect a formal bilateral meeting,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during a briefing Tuesday in Laos.
“I would believe he would have an opportunity” to speak with Duterte during the remainder of the ASEAN summit, as well as at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, as “he interacts with all the leaders at those events,” Rhodes added.
“We’re not saying that we will never speak to the president of the Philippines again,” Rhodes said. But he said after Duterte’s remarks, a meeting wouldn’t be “constructive.”
That’s the right move, of course; Duterte has to pay some sort of price for insulting the US. Still, one has to wonder which is worse — taking a meeting with someone who called you a “son of a whore,” or paying $150 billion to a terror-sponsoring regime that calls the US the “Great Satan” and continuously calls for our destruction. Hmmmmmm.