OMG! Stop him!

Remember this?

CHRISTIANSEN: …And as I heard, you're going to visit for the first time the former GDR. Are you looking forward to that?

BUSH: Yes, I am. It was very kind of Chancellor Merkel -- who I call Angela, by the way -- to invite me to her residence. It's a gesture of friendship that I appreciate. And Laura and I are looking forward to it. And it will give me a chance to continue our dialogue on important issues…
And this?

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) reaches out and pulls Chinese President Hu Jintao back by his suit jacket like he’s an errant todler rather than the leader of a billion-strong nation.

Well, yesterday, at the same press conference during which he put those darn 9/11-forgetting Europeans in their place, there was also this exchange which I failed to notice until just now, as I read the transcript of the entire press conference:

CHANCELLOR SCHÜSSEL: …I now invite the President of the United States, George Bush, to take the floor, and then the President of the Commission.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Chancellor -- I call him, Wolfgang; he calls me, George W. -- Jose, it's good to see you.
“Jose,” btw, is José Manuel Durão Barroso, the President of the European Commission.

Why can’t our president learn how to respectfully refer to foreign dignitaries in public?! Honestly! If I were tasked with introducing, or even speaking about Bush, in a public appearance, in his presence, I would refer to him by his proper and appropriate title, no matter how much I wanted to call him a stupid fucking jackass!

And the reason I would do that is because referring to the president by his full title and name indicates respect for and confers respect upon the position, which is separate from the man who fills it.

When the Austrian Chancellor introduces him as “the President of the United States, George Bush,” and then Bush turns around and makes some crapass joke about how he calls him Wolfgang, it’s a passive-aggressive way of signaling a belief in his own superiority. And by tossing in the little “he calls me George W” rejoinder, he’s trying to preempt any (legitimate) feelings of being disrespected on the part of his target.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with a guy (or gal) who’s intractably passive-aggressive in his machinations to constantly retain the upper hand in an imaginary competition in which he is the only real contender, and disguises it all as “jokes,” will immediately identify this exchange as a textbook case. Like anyone who plays these games, Bush probably can’t even help himself at this point. His contempt is a reflex, a tic. It’s the only thing he’s got to make himself feel special—trying to make someone else feel ordinary. A fairly common habit of a person who knows deep down he's the only dullard in the room.

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