Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

December 18, 2013

On selfies and Shackleton

Leadership can mean many things to many people.

But it’s absence is obvious, as it was with President Barack Obama, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron recently snapping a “selfie” like teenagers at a rock concert and not dignitaries celebrating the life of former South African president Nelson Mandela at his funeral.

His funeral.

And this was not just any funeral. It was one for a man who led the fight to end apartheid in South Africa and “the great liberator” who “makes me want to be a better man” in Mr. Obama’s soaring words that he spoke at the funeral.

Taking that photo and his flirting with Ms. Thorning-Schmidt undermined his speech. It said: I am outside the rules. I am the center of attention. I don’t have to follow protocol because I am the protocol.

It was embarrassing because respect and humility still matter not just to Americans but to millions of people around the world who will see that now viral picture of the selfie and find a man not the heir apparent to Nelson Mandela — an international symbol of racial reconciliation — but merely one more celebrity.

It makes the presidency seem cheap. And it comes on the heels of the epic failure that is Obamacare for which Mr. Obama will ultimately not take responsibility even though it is his signature achievement.

On Nov. 14 Mr. Obama told Americans that he was just learning that “insurance is complicated to buy” and that he was never “informed” of the problems with the website and is not “stupid enough to go around saying, ‘This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,’ a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.”

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