Thursday, February 19, 2009

U.S. President visits Great(ful) White North

Barack Obama made his first trip as President outside the USA today when he visited our great nation's capital for a much-needed sit-down with Stephen Harper.

On a personal note, I cannot even find the words to say how right it is that Obama made Canada his first destination on official foreign relations business.

Canadian parliamentary insiders say their private meeting included conversation about their kids and the pressures of their jobs. And how!

It is quite hilarious, yet not at all surprising, that Obama's visit to Ottawa was ALL OVER Canadian media outlets for several days leading up to today (newspapers, TV, Inter-dubya, radio) yet nary a mention - at least not that I'm aware of - in U.S. media until sometime late this morning or early afternoon, at which point I finally spotted a headline on CNN's RSS feed.

But this story is already long gone from that feed, replaced by something about a chimpanzee attack or Slumdog Millionaire's chances of winning a Best Picture Oscar. (my money's on Slumdog ... FTW MOTHER-EFFERS!)

Back to Obama, one of the most engaging things about his visit was his impromptu stop at a bakery where he bought a couple of cute & delicious looking cookies, in the shape of the maple leaf, for his daughters.

Take a peek here for some really quite good photos of the rock star's ... er, U.S. president's ... day trip to Canada. And I gotta say, it was a real love fest.

While in Ottawa today, Barack Obama committed to continuing strong bilateral partnership with the Canadian federal government and he also made a point of making two very cool statements:

"I'm looking forward to coming back to Canada... when it warms up".


"I love Canada".

Glad you dropped by, Barack -- y'all come back soon now, ya hear?!

*UPDATE* The Canadian Press has a superb wrap of U.S. media coverage of Obama's first foreign trip as the U.S. president. This is good times, check it out, especially the quoted comments from two CNN anchors and I like the quip from Jay Leno, at the end, too.

U.S. media struggles through coverage of Obama's Canada visit

3 hours ago

WASHINGTON — One CNN anchor had apparently never seen the Mounties before, and those who recognized one of Canada's most iconic national symbols noted the absence of their horses.

Others seemed enthralled by how wintry Ottawa was, while some on-air personalities struggled mightily to pronounce "Michaelle Jean" and "charge d'affaires."

American news channels, bloggers and others who watched live on Thursday as President Barack Obama visited Ottawa were largely complimentary and admiring of Canada, even if they were somewhat unfamiliar with what they seemed to consider their quaint neighbour to the north.

"We love those Canadians; they're good people," CNN anchor Kyra Phillips said at one point during the cable news network's coverage of Obama's first foreign trip as president.

Later, however, Phillips said: "All eyes are on Ottawa right now - you don't hear that every day."

Her colleague, Fredricka Whitfield, was stumped earlier in the day when Air Force One first landed in Ottawa and a line of Mounties - clad in their traditional red serge jackets and Stetsons - marched out to greet the president on the airport tarmac.

Pausing as she attempted to describe the scene to viewers, Whitfield apparently took a wild guess and referred to them as "troops."

The Associated Press, meantime, briefly referred to the prime minister as "Premier Stephen Harper" before correcting his title.

Over at Fox News, anchor Megyn Kelly gamely tried to pronounce "charge d'affaires," explaining to viewers: "It's French." Later, as Obama and Harper held court during a Parliament Hill news conference, the channel flashed fact boxes at the bottom of the screen - nuggets that are pretty much common knowledge in Canada.

Among them: "Canada is the U.S.'s largest, most secure supplier of oil," and "Canada is the U.S.'s largest trading partner."

White House blogger Jason Djang travelled ahead of Air Force One and wrote about what he saw upon his arrival in Ottawa.

"Ottawa is white, and the snow's still coming down ... police are on snowmobiles," Djang wrote. "Canal Rideau is frozen over, and there are people ice skating on it."

But lest Canadians feel smug and superior in the wake of American wonderment about their country, some U.S. observers also poked some good-natured fun Thursday at the breathless nature of Canada's coverage of Obama's visit.

The deliciously snarky, the blog that dishes on D.C., directed its barbs at Macleans magazine's "liveblogging" of the event - particularly its author's preoccupation with Obama's lack of warm winter headgear as he emerged from Air Force One.

Under the headline: "Cute Canadian Liveblog of Historic Obama Visit," Wonkette wrote: "Get the blow-by-blow of the most exciting thing to ever happen in Canada in the history of history. Sample: '10:34:43 AM. Why is the president not wearing his hat? Or a hat, at least?"

The Macleans blog, written by Kady O'Malley, was described as "hilarious" by a fellow American blogger, who pointed to her 10:26 a.m. entry: "He's here! He's here! Well, the plane is here, or so it appears from the Newsworld feed. It's big and impressive and just like in the movies."

Meantime, Jay Leno threw a line in his "Tonight Show" monologue about Obama's meeting with Harper.

"President Obama took his first foreign trip as president today up to Canada," Leno said as several, presumably Canadian members of the audience cheered. "He met with the prime minister to discuss one of the greatest threats facing our nation today - Canadian geese!"


Canadian Tourism said...

On the eve of his first foreign visit, Canadian Tourism shot some videos of Canadians welcoming Obama to Canada. They're worth a look!

Welcome to Ottawa, President Obama!
What should President Obama do in Ottawa?
What should President Obama know about Canada?

Kentology said...

Nice work, thx for the heads up.

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