- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pardon me …

When President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. went to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington last week, conservative blogger William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection noted that the coverage on MSNBC left out one little detail.

“Andrea Mitchell (does she have nothing else to do?) reported that Obama ordered a burger and mustard. Sounds like it had that ‘real guy kind of quality.’ Mitchell even noted that Obama left a $5 tip in the tip jar. But she didn’t mention one arugula-like fact,” Mr. Jacobson noted. “NBC’s regular news reported Obama’s order as follows: ‘I’m going to have a basic cheddar cheeseburger, medium well, with mustard,’ Obama said. ‘Do you have spicy mustard? I’ll take that.’ Actually, the quote was ‘you got a spicy mustard or something like that, or a Dijon mustard, something like that’ (at 0.55 of the unedited video below without Mitchell’s talkover).”

It was picked up across conservative blogs as a joke — with people debating the merits of mustard and mayonnaise and noting affinities for French things. But the left-wing blogosphere howled in outrage. “Further Proof That The Right Has Nothing Better To Do,” fumed 43 Ideas Per Minute. A bewildered Jesse Taylor at Pandagon included Mr. Jacobson in a roundup post titled “Three Stories in Stupid.”

“The idiot brigade is right there with him, demanding that the MSM bring us the vital details of his food elitism, lest the nation somehow think that this Prince Akeem [expletive] is one of us,” he wrote. “Now, Ray’s Hell Burger serves gourmet burgers. Really great gourmet burgers. They have imported cheeses and aged beef … So why would you attack Obama for asking for mustard you can get at the grocery store, especially referencing the exact line of attack that McCain and the mainstream media used against Obama for months?”

In his own defense, Mr. Jacobson later wrote, among other things, that his serious point had nothing to do with the merits of Dijon-vs.-yellow or the like.

“I accept that this should not have been news, but the White House image makers wanted to portray the two as just regular guys out at the local diner, so the event was hyped. MSNBC just happened to be in the burger place with cameras rolling when Obama and Biden came in and ordered. … But MSNBC edited out the audio when Obama ordered his Hell Burger just at the moment when Obama asked for Dijon mustard. Now I have nothing against Dijon mustard, but the image didn’t fit with the image being spun by the White House and MSNBC. … Dijongate was a metaphor for the larger issue of media bias which helped Obama get elected, particularly MSNBC’s unprofessional and widely-criticized cheer leading.”

French to Spanish

Poor President Obama. Without his teleprompter, he can trip over his words in two languages.

For scheduling reasons, he planned to observe the Mexican national holiday of Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) at the White House a day early, and he tried to make a joke of it in Spanish. “Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro Cinco de Mayo at the White House,” said Mr. Obama, botching the translation of “May 4.” “Cinco de cuatro” means “five of four”; “Cuatro de Mayo” was what the president wanted to say.

Mary Katherine Ham at the Weekly Standard said she likes “to note these little incidents when they happen, not because I think it makes Obama an idiot because he occasionally stumbles over his words, but because his somewhat overblown reputation as the most cerebral, eloquent, utterly erudite president of all time could really use a pricking every now and then.

“Also, because if Bush had made such a blunder, it would have been the basis of a four-part MSNBC investigative series on the malapropism’s deleterious effects on the Republican Party’s attempts to woo Hispanic voters, Mexican-American relations, and our ‘place in the world.’ … This from a unilingual man who’s embarrassed that more of us can’t speak French. If only he were as conversant in Spanish as he is in noted non-language ‘Austrian,’ this wouldn’t have happened.”

Hello, Dalai

The Dalai Lama has had decades of experience with the Chinese communists in saying things the listener might not want to hear. So handling an audience in ultraliberal Cambridge, Mass., is cake. National Review’s Jay Nordlinger noted at the Corner blog an account of a speech the exiled Tibetan leader gave there, e-mailed to him by an eyewitness.

“Audience member: ‘Can you give us an example of a leader we should look up to as a positive influence?’

“Dalai Lama (after thinking for a few seconds): ‘President Bush. I met him personally and liked him very much. He was honest and straightforward, and that is very important. I may not have agreed with all his policies, but I thought he was very honest and a very good leader.’”

Mr. Nordlinger noted similar reports in the Boston Globe and the MIT student newspaper, the Tech, and his correspondent added the following detail: “when he said, ‘I may not have agreed with all his policies,’ the audience broke out into relieved laughter, as if they could not believe that someone — the Dalai Lama — almost made it through remarks about Bush with only positive sentiments.”

Mr. Nordlinger concluded: “In my experience — and I’m just generalizing here — the better the person, the more positive he is about George W. Bush. Certainly the less snarky and narrow. Most of the people I admire most, admire the 43rd president … This is particularly true of those who know something about tyranny, and the need to resist it: e.g., the Dalai Lama.”

Knights in question

Knights of Columbus, beware. It seems you are now simply a “hate group.”

The District-based Metro Weekly recently honored a “storefront stand” by Brad Allison, a Northern Virginia gay man who discouraged passersby from giving to the Knights of Columbus raising funds outside a Safeway store for the mentally disabled and also managed to get the Knights tossed from a nearby Giant supermarket.

Mr. Allison wrote at his personal blog that once he learned the Knights had given money to California’s Proposition 8 against gay marriage, he held up a sign calling the Knights a hate group and told passersby that they did no charitable work.

“As each person walked toward the store and reached into their pockets I simply, in a calm and soft-spoken voice, said, ‘Please do not support [hate].’ Alternatively, as they reached into their pockets I would say, ‘You would not give money to the KKK. Why would you support the Knights of Columbus?’ Over and over that worked. … Each time the Knights of Columbus man would say, ‘Would you like to help disabled children?’ I would speak up and say, ‘They are not helping disabled children. … They are a political group pretending to be a charitable group in order to get your money.’”

Tim Graham noted at Newsbusters noted that “Allison did not have the facts on his side,” noting that the Catholic fraternal organization did almost $145 million in charitable work in 2007 — a hundred times their Proposition 8 donation.

Catholic blogger Jay Anderson of Norwalk, Ohio, noted that he had “stood in front of a Wal-Mart for 2 hours on Saturday, on behalf of my local Knights of Columbus council, raising money for our local school for the mentally disabled. If that guy had shown up at my location to harass me and slander the Knights of Columbus (not to mention deprive the mentally disabled of donations) in that manner, I’d have probably punched him in the mouth.

“On the other hand, in this part of the country, his antics would’ve probably caused our donations to increase dramatically.”

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com

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