Just Unbelievable

Really? I mean, really???

The White House said President Barack Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Polish war hero.
The president’s remark had drawn immediate complaints from Poles who said Obama should have called it a “German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland,” to distinguish the perpetrators from the location. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called it a matter of “ignorance and incompetence.”
Obama made the comment while awarding the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II. Karski died in 2000.
During an East Room ceremony honoring 13 Medal of Freedom recipients, Obama said that Karski “served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”
Sikorski tweeted that the White House would apologize for “this outrageous error” and that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk would address the matter on Wednesday.
“It’s a pity that such a dignified ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”

Either the President has what are easily the worst handlers in presidential history, or he just doesn’t care. Maybe both.

*apologies on the formatting on the copy and paste quote – Jonathan told me how to fix it once but I forgot – perhaps a refresher is in order.

23 thoughts on “Just Unbelievable”

  1. That’s a terrible gaffe, otherwise the Polish PM would never have responded so bluntly. Ignorance and incompetence is exactly right, and it’s even worse because Poland is one of our best allies. Other presidents’ gaffes have often been at the expense of our adversaries (“we begin bombing in five minutes”). Obama’s tend to hurt our allies. Friendly leaders around the world must be praying that Obama isn’t reelected. But like the parents of a teenaged girl with a loutish boyfriend they dare not express their objections too vehemently lest they make the situation worse. For Sikorski to say, essentially, that the American president is an incompetent shows how bad the situation has become. It may also show that the Poles think they have little to lose by alienating the US govt and need to show backbone in anticipation of Russian attempts at aggression should Obama be reelected.

    [Dan, put the character code for “no break space” (google it as it won’t show up here if I type it) between each paragraph in blockquoted text.]

  2. I have been repeatedly shocked by the nonexistent quality control in the Obama administration. This kind of thing would never happen at a large law firm, a world I once lived in. Nothing is filed, no major oral argument is made without rigorous review. As the saying goes: Perfection is mandatory. A presidents public statements are even more important even than big ticket litigation, so perfection is even more mandatory. Careful proof reading and checking all facts are not arcane processes. It appears Obama has no review process. It is embarrassing, but it is also simply inexplicable. There is absolutely zero reason for this to keep happening.

  3. I want the zero out quite badly but I honestly do NOT want him to keep making these serious gaffes while he is still in office. I don’t think the gaffes affect the voters (this will certainly be forgotten by most when voting time comes) but I guarantee that most Poles will remember this one.

  4. I keep thinking of Dan Quayle misspelling “potato” and the MSM reminding us for years later. I do think that it won’t affect the independents but does drive the rest of us crazy.

    The Poles remember him too for burning them – sticking their necks out to approve the anti missile shield – then having Obama pull the rug out from under them.

    I think they must be compiling a list.

  5. THIS level of consistent incompetence, aimed at specifically those allies worldwide who are most likely to stand with us in a crisis, cannot be the result of mere laziness or accident. This has to be deliberate policy. And every policy has a goal. So what would be the goal of such a policy?

    Subotai Bahadur

  6. And I thought that the gaffe of still speechifying while “God Save the Queen” began to play was bad. I thought the cheap-ass gifts presented to PM Brown was an embarrassment … I mean, doesn’t the White House have a protocol office who would sort out suitable gifts when the occasion calls for it?
    This is just awful, amateurish, and plain old dumb.

  7. This speech was using a TelePromter. That is not a gaffe. There something eerie about this guy. He doesn’t care and seems to be winging it. Fortunately, the Romney response team looks to be as good as Clinton’s war room.

    A lot of Poles fought with us in WWII and had no home to go back to. Lech Walesa must be wondering what his ally is doing.

    It all gives the atmosphere of the inner workings of the Chicago Park District.

  8. When you are the won, you can’t make a mistake.

    Others should feel privileged to be in his thoughts and presence.

  9. “… cannot be the result of mere laziness or accident.”

    Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    Mr. Obama had some foolish stuff in his “speech to the Muslim World” in Cairo, as I recall. He has had a lot of these types of incidents.

    It looks more like no one is in charge of quality control, fact-checking, or protocol. Or, whoever is supposed to be doing it is incompetent. Or, whatever process is supposed to be in place is egregiously defective.

    It shows Mr. Obama is a very poor executive. This is a staff problem and a process problem, it was apparent from early on in Mr. Obama’s administration, and he has failed for three and a half years to focus on it and fix it. The US President’s ceremonial role is immensely important, and usually is a risk free way for the President to look important and in-command, and “presidential.” Yet, Mr. Obama consistently blows these virtual freebies. He repeatedly does himself a political disservice. It really is a head-scratcher.

    We will eventually get the memoir literature and get a good (retrospective) look at the internal workings of Mr. Obama’s office, and we will then understand how this defect in his performance happened, and why it kept going on for so long.

  10. Bill,

    I suspect you are right – ignorance (or at least lack of respect for) history.

    The Obama crowd strikes me as a bunch so full of their own brilliance that anything that happened in the past pales in comparison to the history they believe they are writing now. Everything from the founding fathers to World War II is irrelevant to people who think they are the first really smart folks to come down the pike … and are setting the world the way it should be.

  11. No, it wasn’t an accident or the result of ignorance. This was a written speech. The insult was deliberate, and of a piece with other actions and snubs towards Poland and her leading citizens.

    The current regime continuously insults and antagonizes our allies and everyone keeps saying it’s just ignorance. It isn’t, it’s part of a consistent policy towards any other country which has been supportive of the US.

    It is the flip side of the repeated apologies and endless accomodations with our enemies.

  12. Apparently, Obama had a bit of a contretemps with Lech Walesa last year when he visited Poland. This could even be retaliation. I think Obama is that petty. Walesa didn’t want to appear with him unless there was a conversation. For the ceremony this week, Walesa requested to represent Poland at the medal presentation and was turned down. This has a back story. I think it’s about the anti-missile sites.

  13. I was thinking about this thread on the way home. And you know most Presidents have a small Army of people that go over a speech before it is delivered.

    I remember Reagan – with his famous “tear down this wall” speech – kept butting heads with the State Dept – the State Dept insisted that it not be in – too provocative to Gorbachev – and Reagan, at the last minute, inserted it.

    Of course that is one of his defining speeches.

    So to what Lex said – about “quality control” or others have said about his (lack of) executive skill – to me it speaks to arrogance – IOW the resources are there to make sure his speeches pass the quality test.

    He simply refuses to use them.

  14. I don’t get it. Poland is a longstanding ally (going back to the very birth of our country). Why so careless about offending them while trying to be sensitive to avowedly anti-American regimes and movements?

  15. I think it comes down to arrogance. If he was trying to slight Poland that wouldn’t be the thing to say – it just points to massive ignorance. Combined with arrogance in having someone check it.

    He probably doesn’t know who the “Axis” countries were in WW2 – and no wink – I’m serious.

  16. I think it is a combination of his handlers/speechwriters knowing absolutely nothing, and the zero not caring. I hope to god that Veryretired is wrong and that these ridiculous errors are not intentional.

  17. Once or twice is ignorance/incompetence.

    Find a long time ally he has not insulted, slighted, or whose interests he has not acted against.

    I appreciate your desire to find a less significant reason, but it is wishful thinking.

  18. Well it can be explained – he has young speechwriters taught American history by Zinn. In his bubble Poland is a rebellious society inappropriately resentful (& fearful) of the superior system which had guided it.

    I haven’t read Obama’s autobiography nor want to, I must admit. And I suspect it was written by Ayres – who may be evil but has demonstrated a real writing ability we don’t see elsewhere in Obama’s work. Still, I suspect that the interpretation of his life and policies by Dinesh D’Souza (no, I haven’t read that earlier but saw his discussion on C-span where his interviwer called ir a cockamamie theory) in terms of post-colonialist theory is the simplest explanation. The gaffes would not be thought out carefully but would then have a coherent framework – the kind of framework in which his making jokes at Bush’s expense, apparently giving the finger to Hillary, his confusion about the number of states, etc. would fit rather easily. So would, of course, using drones as a political rather than defensive tool.

    And perhaps we see here my paranoia – thugh I prefer to think of it as clear-sightedness.

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