Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Was the Queen amused?

Poor Queen Elizabeth.
It must be burden for her to visit the US.
Not known for her frequent visits across the Pond, I am pretty sure that she would have loved to do something else – visiting Scotland or an Irish horse farm.
Laura Bush, who is a smart woman, bullied her husband into organizing the state visit including a white tie event.
She (LB, not the Queen) went on national television explaining the menu and other stuff in boring detail.
(If I am not invited, what do I care about the food that is going to be served?!)
Wearing bright red lipstick that made her look like a hungry vampire, the better half of the Bush unit introduced the cooks.
Good for them – free PR once you want to open your own restaurant. Doesn’t Laura watch the “Top Chef” reality show?
It sounded in my non-American ears that Laura Dear got speaking lessons from Condi – unfortunately her clear speaking style was spoiled by the heavy Texan accent.
She kept referring to “Her Maaaaajeesstyyyy” – I wonder if the Oxbridge English speaking Monarch minded too much.
Or may be she is used to it – and finds it refreshing after the mumbling English of her eldest son….

Queen Elizabeth didn’t have much of a choice – it was 400 years ago that the Brits founded Jamestown, which became the first permanent British colony in America.
(If this was a Good Thing, I leave to the judgment of my readers on both sides of the Pond).

Our Senior Citizen Royal duly embarked (oblesse oblige) on a 6-hour or so flight, to meet Bush Minor and other Colonials during her one-week visit.
She didn’t exactly accumulate a lot of frequent flyer miles to the States – it was only her fifth visit in 50 years.
I don’t blame her – visiting a nation that broke away from the Empire by throwing lots of perfectly good tea into the harbor, doesn’t deserve a lot of Royal Attention. Leave that to upstarts like Fergie (the disgraced ex of her second son, not the Black Eyed Peas singer whom she never met).

Being a royal, she must be against presidents out of principle; and the American ones are so colorful! I am sure that her horse riding experience with former Prez. Reagan is still engraved in her mind as does the “talking hat” incident under Bush Pater.
(Bush Senior forgot in 1991 to place a footstool for the Queen to stand on. She was therefore hidden from the crowd looked like a talking hat; not exactly a crowd pleaser).

Since she is rumored to be a betting women, I am pretty sure that she made a nice little bet with her husband on her way over to see how long Bush would last before putting his foot in his mouth again.
It took the Defender of the Free World about 14 minutes into the state arrival ceremony before committing his (first) faux pas.
In all honesty, that might be a personal record for Bush.
He addressed the Queen with “you've dined with 10 U.S. presidents. You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in seventeen s -- in nineteen seventy-six."
The Queen might not be a spring chicken, but she is for sure not over 200 years old!
When the crowd started to laugh, Bush looked at the Queen and winked.
The Queen reacted in her regal way by smiling politely.
She also said something that sounded like "some year," or "you're near" or even "oh, dear."
As journalist Dana Milbank of the Washington Post put it:
At least he didn’t credit her with signing the Magna Carta.”
(No Mr. President, that’s NOT a really, really big golf cart!)

For Bush, this state visit must be a godsend.
Let face it – the Queen is not going to grill him on the War in Iraq, his approval rate, Hurricane Katrina and his alcohol problem.

For the Queen, there was one treat in the program: visiting the Kentucky Derby.
Being a huge race fan, she was for sure more comfortable talking to jockey Calvin Borel than to the Bush people.
(Borel was later invited at the last minute to attend the state dinner – so Queen E. had at least one partner to have an interesting conversation with).

According to a Buck House spokesperson, she took an extremely close interest in the horses, but didn't place any bets. Smart lady – the horses were for sure more entertaining (and better looking) than a lot of the state dinner guests, and winning a racing bet in the US might have triggered another Boston Tea Party….

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Exit of the I-man aka the Don Imus Fiasco

Unless you have been in outer space or you are Knut, the Berlin polar bear cub, you must have heard about Don Imus and his big mouth.
For those of you who are not familiar with this person – he was the CBS Radio talk-show host of “Imus in the Morning”.
His trademark was a combination of discussions about politics and culture, mixed with crude and vulgar humor.
So much for the taste of his listeners.
He liked insulting people on air - during an interview with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife-unit Suzy Wetlaufer about their book “Winning”, Imus referred to Suzy as "been around more times than a fan belt."

But when he started discussing the appearance of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, all hell broke loose.
Instead of applauding these women for being smart, ambitious and blessed with athletic bodies (Paris Hilton, eat your heart out!), he spouted racial slurs.

Ironically enough, this washed out, Caucasian, over-the-hillbilly borrowed words from the hip hop world – for reasons unclear to one and all.
How this could be perceived by Imus as even remotely funny or entertaining is a mystery to me. Obviously, the ‘60s were too good to him and must have fried the moral code part of his muddled brain.

This time, thanks to the public outcry, the whole issue went online, was shown on YouTube and reached a global audience thanks to networks such as CNN and Fox.
Needless to say, viewers outside of the USA were baffled and wondered how this washout ex-junkie was able to host a radio show for so long, raking in millions for his bosses, sponsors and himself.
Ah, American culture!
The issue was settled in a typical American way as well – the sponsors pulled their ad millions from the show, since their customers were upset.
Forget about Barack and Oprah taking the moral high ground – it’s the all-powerful dollar that settled the issue.
Ergo, exit Imus.

Imus is no fool – he issued a public apology that was promptly accepted by the Rutgers’ team.
This will leave his options open to move to another radio station or follow fellow shock jock Howard Stern to satellite radio.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sirius and XM already started a bidding war.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if he already started penning his autobiography “from fame to shame” or something similar – and if anybody knows how to market it, it’s Imus himself!

The ones that should get a sweet deal out of it are –of course- the Rutgers ladies, who handled the whole issue with a lot of class.
I expect companies such as Dove and Patagonia to step in and use them as models for their products.
Charities should jump on the opportunity to have them as spokespersons.
If not, I hope that they all graduate with top marks – and may the lawyers among them sue bigots like Imus for every penny they ever made!