Obamateurism of the Day

Once again, we return to the Summit of the Americas, where 34 democracies gathered to discuss issues around the hemisphere. That’s 34 — a number that actually has significant meaning to the US, although clearly that went over the head of our head of state (via HA reader Richard P):

President Obama misnumbered the nations attending the Summit of the Americas here, saying it was 36 when it’s actually 34.

“When you are in a group of 36, it’s more difficult to focus just on the regional issues so this gives me an opportunity to hear more directly about challenges and opportunities in the region,” Obama said.

The slip-up would be easily overlooked except for the setting and the leader of the meeting where the president said it. Obama spoke at the opening of a meeting of Central American leaders here, a sort of side summit to the main one.

Actually, the difference between 34 and 36 is the subject of some controversy at the summit. A few of the 34 represented nations believe there should be 36 nations at the conference, a position which the US disputes. Why? Because the US doesn’t count Cuba as a democracy, and Puerto Rico is an American territory and not an independent nation.

Who wants these two entities represented at the Summit of the Americas and to have 36 nations in the count? Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, who castigated the US for their absence during his 50-minute harangue after Obama’s speech.

Do you think Obama learned to count better after that? Neither do I. Somehow, this seems a lot more significant than Dan Quayle’s “potatoe”, but right along the same lines as Obama’s campaign-trail assertion of having visited 57 or 58 states.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] 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!