The White House rushed to refute a widely reported media story about President Obama’s late arrival to the meet-and-greet ceremony with Pope Francis, saying the pontiff was not forced to fly donuts in the sky because of rudeness on the part of the commander in chief.
Rather, it was the pope who likely took off too early from Cuba and arrived a bit before Obama was even scheduled to be on scene, the White House said, the Atlantic reported.
The clarification came on the heels of outrage at the seeming slap in the face to the pontiff.
Hot Air, citing the Atlantic’s initial coverage of the incident, reported Obama and vice president Joe Biden were unable to make the scheduled time to meet Pope Francis at the airport, delaying the pontiff’s landing by several minutes.
This is how the news blog put it, citing the Atlantic: “As the pope stalkers of the world watched his flight path on the Alitalia website, suddenly … the plane started making donuts. Several loops over North Carolina later, the pope is back on his way to D.C. … A source on the ground at Joint Base Andrews said several government officials told him the reason the plane started circling was that Obama and Biden are running late to the greeting ceremony.”
Hot Air’s take of the situation?
“Ooops. Seems like even the bishop of Rome has to adjust his schedule around Beltway traffic,” the blog wrote. But snarkier, was this: “[Obama] has a lot on his plate right now, like doing nothing while Putin takes over Syria.”
And on the circling of the pope’s plane: “On the one hand, so many extra emissions. On the other hand, let’s keep this in perspective. It’s not like Obama isn’t going to deliver much grander insults to the pope later this week.”
But the president’s late arrival turned out to be no-so-late after all, according to the White House. The Atlantic put out a clarification, shortly after its original report.
It read: “As a White House spokesman subsequently pointed out the pope deplaned at 4 p.m., precisely as scheduled, and the president was on hand to greet him. Others have meanwhile indicated that the pope’s plane took off early from Cuba, which would explain the flight pattern.”
The story of Obama’s lateness may have gained quick traction in the press in part because of his rather lengthy record of etiquette offenses on the national and global platforms.
France erupted in 2014 at Obama’s public gun-chewing, with social media posters calling his actions during the D-Day ceremonies as “shameful” and “vulgar,” Western Journalism found. And one Twitter writer posted this: “Obama do you want a Coke too while chewing gum while the Marseillaise is being played?”
A short time later, Obama did similarly in China, chomping on gum at the economic summit in Beijing. Chinese commentators quickly seized on the president’s public display as the impolite actions of an “idler” or careless “rapper,” various media reported.
Meanwhile, a year earlier, Obama drew the ire of many around the globe – not to mention his own wife’s – for what some described as a tacky display of flirtatious behavior with Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
As the New York Post reported the 2013 incident: “In front of 91 world leaders, the mourning nation of South Africa and Obama’s clearly furious wife, Michelle, the president flirted, giggled, whispered like a racalcitrant child and made a damn fool of himself at first sight of Denmark’s voluptuously curvy and married prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. … With Michelle glowering, the world judging and mental fidelity floating into the abyss, the president leaned into the air space of the cross-legged Danish cupcake … It was the memorial equivalent of a bodice-ripper.”