I keep hearing on conservative talk-show radio that Barack Obama is evil or, at least, a habitual liar. I think this is wrong. He is neither. Conservative commentators are missing what seems obvious to me: He is abysmally ignorant. By the way, that may be the simple explanation to a fact that has been perplexing me for a while: Why his undergraduates grade are still under seal, thirty years latter. I always argue that whatever you did at 20 is automatically forgiven. But the aged bad student may not be able to forgive himself if he is still operating with a chip on his shoulder about his lack of understanding of the world.
If he was such a bad student, you ask, how could he attend first-rate universities? You guess. He was a good-looking young man with a neat appearance, and a black face but no trace of Negro dialect. (Not my words, those of the Democrat leader of the Senate.)
You can tell a lot about a long-married man from what his wife is entitled to do. Successful men don’t stay married forever to women who embarrass them by their actions. In the long run, and even in the middle-run, husbands and wives tend to deserve each other, including intellectually. Here is what Michele Obama has ordered for lunch (or dinner) for the visit of President Calderón of Mexico and of his wife: pollo (or pavo) en mole.
There are two kinds of mole. The mole I am referring to here is a quintessentially Mexican preparation centering on cocoa. No one else in the world does this; perhaps no one else had the nerve. What the First Lady is doing is like serving boeuf bourguignon to a visiting French President, or a Peking duck to a Chinese dignitary. It betrays extraordinary parochialism.
It’s unnecessarily risky in terms of the simple rules of hospitality: The chance that an American chef will prepare a mediocre mole is high. (I am sensitive to this aspect of things because I used to be French. Peruse excerpts from my memoirs of the same title on this blog.)
It’s also an unconsciously condescending act, like much that comes out of the White House. It treats an upper-class Mexican couple as children who could not cope with unfamiliar food away from home. Think of the reaction if anyone give the presidential couple of dinner of fried chicken and grits, with water-melon for dessert, just to make sure they don’t feel ill-at-ease.
Mrs Obama: Nearly every foreign visitor to this country, except a few pious Hindus, expects that same treat: A thick slice of medium-rare excellent American beef.
Don’t go out of your way to appear sensitive. You are falling on your face and undermining your husband’s much damaged credibility.
PS Dear President Calderon: You are right to dislike the new Arizona law. It’s not good for your citizens’ dignity. Just police your border better and the problem will disappear.