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Embarrassing Presidential Moments

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Embarrassing Presidential Moments

Embarrassing Presidential Moments
July 24
16:27 2018

Was Helsinki the worst presidential embarrassment ever, as Trump critics contend?

If you follow my commentaries, you would know that I was very critical of President Trump’s performance in Helsinki. He screwed up, for sure.

On the other hand, it is not the end of the Earth as his critics seem to think – or at least want the public to think. The most outrageous reaction came from former CIA Director John Brennan – one of the most strident Trump critics on the scene. He accused Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional language of impeachment. As if that was not enough, Brennan also accused Trump of treason, a capital offense punishable by execution, no less. It is that kind of over-the-top language that destroys the credibility of the #NeverTrump resistance movement.

In the spirit of making excessive claims to demean and disparage Trump, the folks on the left claim that Helsinki was the greatest humiliation and embarrassment by any president in American history. They were especially critical of Trump creating an equivalency between the United States and Russia. They say Trump was submissive to Putin.

While there is considerable room for criticism of Trump in Helsinki, his enemies should not be too quick to cast that stone. They should recall the so-called “apology tour” of freshman President Obama during his first world tour. He lost no opportunity to accuse his own country of misdeeds around the world. We can also recall First Lady Michelle saying that she had never been proud to be an American until her husband was elected president. Ironically, at the time the president and the first lady were disparaging pre-Obama America, there was no condemnation from then-CIA Director … guest who … John Brennan.

In terms of submission, one needs to be reminded of the photos of Obama bowing deeply to Japanese Emperor Akihito and on another occasion to Saudi Arabian King Abdullah.

Yeah, the images caused a bit of a tempest in a teapot, but nothing like the blowback against Trump.

President George W. Bush had his embarrassing moment with regard to Vladimir Putin when he said he trusted the Russian despot because he looked into his eyes and saw his soul. Then there was President Carter’s belated admission – in the third year of his one-term presidency – that he was beginning to believe that the Russians cannot be trusted.

And how embarrassing was Hillary Clinton’s silly stunt in presenting a plastic reset button to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to signal a better relationship with Russia right after they had invaded Georgia – not the American one, of course. Imagine that, the Obama administration did not use the occasion to condemn Russia for its aggression but rather offered to play nice/nice with a toy reset button.

The embarrassment was compounded when it was discovered that the Russian language on the button was wrong. It was to say “reset” in Russian. Clinton walked into the doo doo when she told Lavrov that they worked hard to get the language correct. “How did we do?” she inquired. Lavrov laughed and told her it was wrong. It should have said “perezagruzka” for “reset,” but it said “peregruzka,” meaning “overcharged.”

Obama himself had an embarrassing and compromising moment with Putin’s Russian puppet President Dmitry Medvedev. What was to be a private, one-on-one conversation (really?) was picked up on an open mic. Obama told Medvedev to tell Putin that he, Obama, would have more latitude to deal after his re-election. And what did Obama mean by that? We never did find out.

There are two conclusions that can be drawn from all these awkward moments – that the Russians must make very good first impressions and that all of these events, including Trump in Helsinki, have a very short shelf life. By Election Day, Helsinki will only be of interest to historians – possibly elbowed out of the limelight by a controversial Putin visit to the Oval Office.

All the aforementioned blunders and embarrassments aside, my pick for the number one embarrassment on foreign soil by an American president goes to … drum roll, please … George H. W. Bush. It occurred when Bush briefly passed out after vomiting in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa at a state dinner in Tokyo. It must have been the sushi.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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