But then, he is the President.
The President is in Beijing to cheer on our Olympic athletes. And that’s a good thing.
But then, he is the first POTUS to attend an Olympics on foreign soil, and he is representing our nation in a foreign country — at an event that many other leaders boycotted because of their concerns about the host government’s record and policies.
There’s no law against the POTUS having a good time during his down time. And that’s a good thing.
But then Mr. Bush in Beijing is our head of state and head of government under constant scrutiny on an official trip in a country where great stock is placed in “face” and great attention is paid to decorum (and which he has been lecturing about the moral imperatives of human rights).
Of course all work and no play makes even heads of state and government dull — and that’s not a good thing.
But then, there is a murderous conflict going on in the Caucasus, and while the President of the USA was checking out tattoos, the Prime Minister of Russia flew home to check out tanks. Just because a headline like “While Georgia burned George W Bush played volleyball” is a cheap shot doesn’t mean that it doesn’t reflect the way people may feel.
Maybe it’s just me with way too much time on my hands. Maybe I should shake out the cobwebs and get a life and wake up and smell the green tea and take up residence in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
The Reuters caption for this photo underwent a small but important correction shortly after it was sent around the world:
Original photo caption: “U.S. President George W. Bush playfully pats the backside of U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball team player Misty May-Treanor (L) at her invitation while visiting the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Grounds at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 9, 2008. Team mate Kerri Walsh (R) watches.”
Corrected caption eight minutes later: “ATTENTION EDITORS – CAPTION CLARIFICATION U.S. President George W. Bush playfully pats the back of U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball team player Misty May-Treanor (L) at her invitation while visiting the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Grounds at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 9, 2008. Teammate Kerri Walsh (R) watches.”
In fact, both captions are wrong. Here’s what happened, via the LA Times:
Bush knuckled off a couple of lobs, but defending gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh gave the chief executive some pointers. Then after a good play, in the tradition of female volleyballers, May-Treanor turned, bent over slightly and offered her bikinied rear-end for the 43rd president to slap.
“Mr. President,” she said, “want to?”
The Telegraph‘s (London) correspondent Kevin Garside takes up the story at this critical point:
He got more than he bargained for when Olympic champion Misty May-Treanor bent over and invited him to slap her rear, as it is customary for team-mates to do between points. “Mr President, want to?” she teased.
Mr Bush flicked a response towards the small of her back, seemingly confirming the view of casual observers that beach volleyball serves little purpose beyond the interests of ageing people with bottom fetishes.
Dubya will argue that he was actually paying attention to Misty’s tattoo, located marginally above her coccyx. Get outta here.
Let me just say it so we can all get on with our Sunday. I think it was right for the President to go to Beijing. And I think it was wrong to put himself in a position, and conduct himself in such a manner, that produced these undignified photographs.