Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Cardboard President


President Barry and his lovely wife, the impeccably stylish Michelle Obama, are a very photogenic couple. That's a good thing for the leader of a country as vain as the United States. We like it when we're represented by a good looking chap (or chapette). I'd imagine other countries do as well. Like it when they are represented by a good looking leader, that is. But I've noticed that President Barry always has the same look when he's taking pictures with foreign leaders. He's like a cardboard cutout every single time and he looks exactly the same every single time!

Fortunately, the G20 is in town (and by "town" I mean "the United States") and that give us the perfect opportunity to observe President Barry's cardboard photogenic nature as well as it gives us a chance to see how the leaders and their spouses from other countries interact via photo ops with the Obamas. They seem to fall into three categories. There are the folks that are perfectly fine with having their picture snapped with Mr. and Mrs. Charisma. There are the folks that are seemingly not perfectly fine with the photo op. And then there are those who are OK with the photo op, but only because they seem to think that it gives them an opportunity to show either how chummy they (think they) are with the Obamas, or so they can show how much better than the Obamas they are. But through it all, President Barry? Looks the same, that is correct.

Here we have the President of the Republic of Cameroon, a one H.E. Paul Biya and his wife, Mrs. Chantal Biya. It would seem that Mrs. Chantal thinks rather highly of herself. She also seems to want to be one of the Supremes or something.
Here are the Obamas with the Prime Minister of Montenegro, one T.H. Milo Djukanovic and his wife, Mrs. Djukanovic. (That's all I've got. Last name: Djukanovic. First name: Mrs.) If Montenegro isn't ringing a bell, that's because it used to be part of Serbia until 2006. Judging from the demeanor or Mrs. Montenegro there, I'm guessing things are going OK over there since the Serbian exit. Probably still a little bomb-y on occasion, but they don't look like they're going to let it phase them much.


Next up, the Obamas with the President of the Union of the Comoros, a one H.E. Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, and his wife, Mrs. Djoudi Hadjir. Why the different last names? I don't know either. But I don't appear to be the only one who is confused. The Mrs. there seems a bit concerned that Michelle Obama is so close to her. Either that or she's a bit concerned that President Barry is so close to her husband. Hmmm. I wonder how they roll over there in the Comoros?


Here is President Barry and Michelle with the folks from Armenia. I like the way that they have named their leader. Instead of President or Prime Minister or Grand Poobah, Armenia has chosen to go with the title of Permanent Representative. So here we have the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations, one H.E. Garen Nazarian and his wife, Mrs. Siranoush Nazarian. Behold!


Say, does the H.E. stand for something that I am unaware of? This is the third H.E. leader that we've run across here. If they were all from the same country, I might be able to attribute it to something like that, but they're not. I mean, seriously, H.E. isn't exactly an overly common set of initials. The only thing I can think of would maybe be His Excellency? I guess that would make the one guy whose first initials were T.E., The Excellency? Rather presumptuous of that guy if that were really the case, eh? Anyway, moving on!

Onto Brunei! Wow! I had no idea that Don King was one of the representatives for Brunei. What's that? That's not Don King? Whoa. Awkward. But in fact, that is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, a one H.R.H. Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and H.R.H. Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah. What's with the repeating name there? Pengiran Anak, Pengiran Anak? Who needs seven names? He's just Prince Mohamed. What's her deal? Insecure much?


Here's the Prime Minister of Japan, a one H.E. Yukio Hatoyama and his new wife, Mrs. Miyuki "I traveled aboard a spaceship to Venus" Hatoyama. I think that this is the closest that President Barry has been to any of the other diplomats in all of these photos. He's probably trying to get close enough so that he can ask Yukio there what the deal is with his very pleasant, but seemingly whack-a-doo wifey.

Please welcome the linebacker Prime Minster of Tuvalu, a one T.H. Apisai Ielemia and his defensive linewife, Lady Ielemia. Behold!


The folks in the Solomon Islands seem to have more of a thing for elongated titles than those over there in Brunei. Please welcome (deep breath) the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Indigenous Affairs of Solomon Islands, (breathe again!) T.H. Fredrick Fono and his wife, Mrs. Helen A. Fono. Is there something wrong with introducing them as Fred and Helen from the Islands? Fred seems like a hoot. Helen seems wary of people in general, especially the guy with the camera.


I'm guessing that the reason that H.E. Ali Ahmed Jama Jangeli, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic (good Lord, another long titler) looks so unhappy is because he must have realized that he forgot to take off his hat after his shift at the burger joint was over. But boy, his wife, Mrs. Jama (bless you and your short, short name, Mrs. Jama!), she seems to be having a great, great time in America. I'm sure their marriage is just constant bliss.


Apparently, the more Middle East-y we get, the more grumpy the leaders get. Look at the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and H.H. Sheikha Mozah Consort of His Highness The Emir of the State of Qatar. They're just angry folk is what they are. Angry and mustachioed. Never a good combination.


But look at President Barry in all of these photos when I put him next to himself. He's the same! He doesn't change! Even his feet are the same! Even his hand is the same! What's with his thumb? Can't he ever position that in some different direction? Michelle manages to move herself around! What the heck is wrong with President Barry that he can't do the same thing? It's not natural, I'm telling you. I find it rather unnerving.

I've only shown you a few of these cardboard cutout photo ops that President Barry has done since the whole G20 thing began on Thursday. There are over 130 photos of the Obamas with Mr. and Mrs. Other Country over at the White House Flickr photo stream. Yes, the White House has a Flickr photo stream. They're hip. They've told us so. Feel free to click the link above and check it out. But if you're hoping to catch President Barry in a different pose or looking like something with a pulse, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

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