This may seem an inane issue with all the scandals going on. However, a recent incident that received little notice needs to be resurrected, because it symbolizes what we have representing our nation as leaders.
In the French language, there is a term known as “Savoir Faire.” It means knowing to do the right thing in sensitive situations, even though is has nothing to do with laws or rules. It shows compassion; sophistication and class. It’s particularly important when dealing in diplomacy.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away on April 8th, 2013. Her funeral was held on April 17th. Mrs. Thatcher was the British leader over eleven years, transcending the terms of Presidents Carter, Reagan and Bush I. She was among the most compelling international figures of the 20th century and a fierce ally of the United States.
President Obama’s administration elected to snub the Thatcher funeral. Not only did the president take a pass, not a single high-ranking member of the current Obama administration was dispatched to show respect for the Iron Lady and the British people in general. Attendance by a couple ancient Secretaries of State from 30 and 40 years ago doesn’t cut it. (Schultz and Baker)
Mrs. Thatcher was a recipient of the United States Medal of Freedom. She attended the funeral of President Reagan in 2004. She has represented Britain as our staunch ally, often in the face of dissent. Biographies galore show the enormous respect she garnered from all sides of the political spectrum.
Besides the accolades due Mrs. Thatcher, we should also have taken the opportunity to pay homage to the British government and their people for their sacrifices in standing toe-to-toe with America in global conflicts such as the first gulf war, the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. The UK lost 670 lives in support of these missions, more than any other nation within the coalitions.
It’s an embarrassment.
Yes, the funeral was held shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing when times were in turmoil in America. But, in fact, the decisions to not send an active delegate from the Obama administration had already been made.
Where was Vice President Joe Biden? Where was Mrs. Obama? Where were the Secretaries of State or Defense? Treasury?
When Mr. Obama first visited the UK in 2009, he brought a gift for the queen: A group of iPods which included music and his own speeches. Queen Elizabeth must have been overjoyed.
Kenya, the birthplace of Obama’s father and home of many relatives, was once a British colony. Those who have read the president’s biographies would glean how hard feelings existed toward the Brits because of colonial rule. That may be supposition, but I can think of no other reason to be so rude to the government of the United Kingdom.
During British rule, there existed many reports of torture and abuse of Kenyans in the 1950’s, for which the UK is now paying reparations. But that has no bearing on the fact that the United States owes a debt of gratitude toward the present-day government of England. We could not ask for a stronger ally.
In terms of importance, this issue is certainly eclipsed by all the current scandals concerning Benghazi, the IRS and the legal assault on free press. But it is telling.
It is certainly not… savoir faire.