When Harry Truman first met Douglas MacArthur, the General kept the President waiting for over a half an hour. Rightfully incensed, the President stated that MacArthur may keep Harry Truman waiting but not his Commander in Chief and President of the United States.
In the spring of 1958 President Eisenhower sent Vice President Nixon on a tour of Latin America to improve relations. Unfortunately what was supposed to be applause and ceremonial flag waving turned into violence and threatened safety. In Venezuela the Vice President’s motorcade was attacked as his cars windows were smashed, his auto rocked from and side to side and as Nixon emerged was spit upon. To paraphrase President Truman, it may be acceptable to take an action against Richard Nixon but not against the Vice President of the United States.
There is a difference between the man and the office. Unfortunately most people, including Americans, fail to recognize or even understand that difference. The problem is compounded when the man, himself, disrespects the office and sets the example for all the world to see. Ronald Reagan always kept his jacket on while working behind the desk in the Oval Office. Historians disagree as to whether Bill Clinton took his jacket off or left it on while receiving oral sex at the same historic desk.
That brings me to the most recent actions of the Chinese government at the G-20 meeting in Hangzhou. Make no mistake, as some including Obama have concluded, that this was a low level snafu. In China everything comes from the top and symbolic gestures are significant. When Air Force One arrived at the airport, it was reported, Chinese officials declined to provide a set of steps for the President and his entourage to descend to the tarmac. This resulted in delay and the use of an emergency exit. Eventually mechanical problems were attributed to the planned confusion but the statement had been made. The clueless press concluded that humiliating the President of the United States was not as important as the altercation that occurred when National Security advisor Susan Rice was mistaken as a lowly reporter.
I find myself in difficult but not unchartered waters due to my total disdain for the man yet total respect for the office. The airport official said in English and with a very aggressive tone “this is our country and this is our airport” implying that the President was held hostage to the Chinese whim.
Yes, it most certainly is your country and your airport but, love him or hate him, that is our President and fictitious mechanical difficulties and hostage holding are totally unacceptable.
Regardless of which man or woman assumes the office of President, honor and respect must be the order of the day. Whether Air Force One lands in Salt Lake City or Hangzhou nothing less should be expected.
I only wish that over the past few decades those assuming the office and those aspiring in the future had or would have the same respect. Unfortunately history has proven that many do not.
Obama said the snafu was no big deal. That obviously summed up his total respect for the office, tradition and importance of the Presidency, OUR Presidency.