President Barack Obama made a world-class gaffe in front of the entire planet’s press during his news conference in Strasbourg, France. The transcript was released by the White House on April 4:
Q Sonja Sagmeister from a little country, Austria, from Austrian Television. Mr. President, you said you came here to learn and to listen. So a quite personal question — what did you learn from your personal talk with the European leaders? And did this change in a certain way your views on Europe and its politics?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s an interesting question. I had already formed relationships with many of them. Some of them I had met when I traveled through Europe before my election. Some of them I had met because they came to Washington after the election. This is the first time I’ve been in a forum with so many of them at the same time.
I’m extraordinarily impressed by the quality of leadership. I am constantly reminded that although there are cultural differences that are important and that we have to be sensitive to, what we have in common between Europe and the United States so vastly exceeds any differences that we have; that we should not forget why we are allies, and we should be careful about some of the easy stereotypes that take place on both sides of the borders.
It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing — and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics.
But I think it’s a testimony to the success of the European Union, as well as NATO, that on very important issues, each leader seems to be able to rise above parochial interests in order to achieve common objectives. And I think that has accounted for some of the extraordinary success and prosperity of Europe over the last several years.
So what’s so embarrassingly wrong about what the president said? Only this:
German is the official language of Austria. Worldwide, 10 million native speakers speak German and it ranks as the tenth most spoken language in the world. The total number of German speakers leaps to around 130 million people if non-native speakers are included. Linguists class German as an Indo-European language. It is also the official language of Germany, Belgium, Liechtenstein, and part of Switzerland, Luxembourg, and others.
In other words, this is no such language as “Austrian.” Isn’t there someone on the White House staff, a director of Protocol or something, whose job it is to make sure the leader of the free world knows these things? Or did no one say anything because they assumed that it was reasonably common knowledge?
You probably recall the howls from the drive-by media and the leftosphere when Fox News’ Carl Cameron said that he was told “by folks” – folks without names, apparently – that Sarah Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent. The press and “progressive” bloggers had a field day with it, even though it was only a rumor and had never been confirmed by anyone willing to put their name behind it.
For that, Gov. Palin was maligned. A “dubious grasp of geography,” sniffed HuffPo’s Nicholas Graham. Wonkette, dripping with superiority, posted, “And did we mention that she thought Africa was a country, and not a continent? Wait until she hears about Australia: it’s both.” Salon’s Anthony Freed wrote: “Stunningly, but not surprisingly, the gal who was 3% of the vote and an old man’s heart beat away from the presidency thinks Africa is a country in and of itself.” It would later come to light that the “Martin Eisenstadt” who took credit for passing the tidbit along to Fox News does not exist. It was a hoax. But many Palin critics still believe the continent meme, even though it’s never been more than a rumor.
Obama’s ignorance of Austria and what language is spoken there, however, is a unicorn of a different hue. It’s on the official White House transcript. It’s on video (at the 28:30 mark). Many people know that German is spoken in Austria, and they didn’t have to look it up. So where are the Obama-worshippers on this? They are curiously silent. No snickering from HuffPo, no acidic Salon snorting, no “dumb as a bag of hammers” diaries from Wonkette. The double standard runs deep and wide, and there’s no ceiling, glass or otherwise, limiting the heights to which the Left’s hypocrisy can soar.
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