President Obama is cutting his teeth on the world stage during his first excursion out of the States this week. With that comes intense scrutiny of everything he says or does. Never mind politics, it's all about image. And the president seems to be projecting one of confidence.
Let's start with the touching. It seems every time he meets with a fellow world leader while in London for the G20 meetings, Obama gets touchy-feely; back slaps and arm-touching abound.
Even the Queen herself could not escape the president's outgoing nature when Obama, upon greeting Her Majesty Wednesday, cupped her one hand in both of his-- a royal no-no, the Brits say. This conviviality was only matched by the president's wife, Michelle, who was seen palling around with the Queen; each with their arms around each other. The Queen was not a bit stuffy about this atypical display and none of the world leaders seem to mind their own physical encounters with the Obamas a bit, either. In fact, they often led the lovefest.
Then there translation frustration. While the president was addressing the press alongside Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday, he initially paused after each phrase to allow the translator to catch up, only to scrap that method part-way through. That left the translator scribbling feverishly and relaying the lengthy chunk of translation while Obama listened, seemingly painfully. At the very next press event, Obama went back to plan A.
That was Wednesday. Thursday, the president posed for photos with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. It was only as the two were walking away when Obama apparently realized he had been planning to make remarks to the press. "Hold on a second. Let's make a brief statement," Obama told the press as the two pivoted and sat back down. But only he did.
All are minor mishaps, if even that, but part of the scrutiny every president endures. Plus, there have been no political disasters so far, so what else are we to talk about?