Sunday, April 05, 2009

Presidential Demeanor

Some great observations about the Obamas' visit to London, and what Europe's response to the way the President and First Lady carried themselves suggests about USA-EU relations.

This essay will be useful when teaching students about class (in)visibility (Obama shaking the police officer's hand a 10 Downing Street) and Bourdieu's concept of habitus.
"The other thing that she [Mrs. Obama] rose above was Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip: Honey, we shrunk the royal family. If ever we needed a totemic image of the merits of a republic over a monarchy, this was it."

"The truth is that the French have never really got over being dumped at the altar of the “special relationship.” It should have been them. It was after all, the French who gave you the Statue of Liberty and the keys to the Bastille and who think Jerry Lewis is funny. What did the English ever give you? Muffins and a burnt White House."
Joking aside, it's true: the French are unfairly dumped on in the US. I suspect it has a lot to do with military-related issues, e.g. De Gaulle pulling France out of NATO's military (but not political) structure and evicting NATO forces from the country. So, I'll want to supplement this essay with reading about economics and social mobility. Given many Americans' proclivity for ill-informed patriotism, students need to know that it's more likely for a person born poor to move out of poverty in France than it is in the US. 

But as this piece to suggests, America should feel proud about their First Family. 

(Now, if only the Obama administration would listen to Paul Krugman...)

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