British Newspaper Blasted Bush's Etiquette Flub, but Glosses Over Obama's

May 25, 2011 - 9:06 AM

Obama royal visit

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip pose for photographers prior to a dinner hosted by the queen, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, at Buckingham Palace in London. (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)

(Update: The Associated Press, describing Obama's toast to the queen as a "blooper," reported that Obama on Wednesday made light of speaking over the British national anthem. Obama told British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the orchestra provided a soundtrack to his closing passage, while Clegg — who was at the dinner — told Obama the music had added "a crescendo" to his words.)

(CNSNews.com) - Imagine the newspaper headlines if President George W. Bush had written the wrong date in the Westminster Abbey guest book; or if he had continued toasting the Queen of England after the British national anthem started playing.

Obama did both of those things on Tuesday, and while media outlets reported the incidents, there was no suggestion that he is a blundering fool.

"Doesn’t Obama know what year it is? President signs Westminster Abbey guestbook 2008!" said the headline in the Daily Mail online.  The subhead read: "Orchestra also accidentally starts playing National Anthem over Obama as he toasts Queen after misunderstanding a pause from the President."

Contrast that with the Daily Mail headline on May 8, 2007: "Blundering Bush makes ANOTHER gaffe as he winks at the Queen".

The British newspaper reported that Bush winked at Queen Elizabeth II during his welcoming remarks at the White House, after he came close to suggesting that she last visited the United States in 1776.

As the New York Times reported on May 8, 2007: "Mr. Bush set a relaxed tone to the White House gathering, albeit unintentionally. “You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 — in 1976,” he said as laughter broke out. A moment later, Mr. Bush said the queen had flashed him a look 'that only a mother could give a child.' That line brought more laughter."

The Daily Mail commented at the time that turning to the queen "and giving her a sly wink is probably not included in any book of royal etiquette."

The New York Times also questionned Bush's grasp of etiquette, in a May 5, 2007 report on White House preparations for the British monarch's visit -- before Bush misspoke at the welcoming ceremony. The report began this way: "How does George W Bush, a towel-snapping Texan who puts his feet on the coffee table, drinks water straight from the bottle and was once caught on tape talking with food in his mouth, prepare for a state dinner with the Queen? With tips from an etiquette guide, of course - and a little gentle prodding from his wife."

As for Obama speaking over the British national anthem at Tuesday's state dinner, ABC News senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper described it as an “awkward” moment in which the orchestra and Obama were “a bit out of synch.”

Tapper noted that when the music started, “The president kept going,” and the queen appeared uncomfortable.

In fact, said Tapper, because the anthem was still playing when Obama finally finished his toast, “no one drank from his or her glass, including the president, who put his glass down on the table.”