By all accounts, the Obamas' first foray overseas was a great success. While Barack was being just his cool, articulate self at an almost hour-long news conference with journalists from all over the world; meeting with the president of India (who asked for Obama's autograph "for his daughter"); or flashing his ready smile . . . why I am just tickled plumb to death that I don't have to be embarrassed because our president is exposing his crudity, boorishness, and ignorance to the entire world. God, I used to cringe whenever Bush spoke in public anywhere, much less in some foreign country. No worries with Barack on that score. What a relief and a pride to have a guy like this speaking for America.
And then there's Michelle. All she did on this trip was wow the entire United Kingdom. I listened tonight to a female British reporter who enthusiastically approved of the unheard of gesture of returning a back touch from Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, and the most famous monarch in the world. The Brits went bonkers with this action that we Americans don't think twice about--hell, I'd hug Michelle Obama if I ever got the chance, and I'll bet she'd hug me back, too--but the widespread opinion is that this was a good thing, not a breach of etiquette at all. But for my money, the best thing of all was the huge, friendly, and at times ecstatic reception Michelle got an English school she visited. I was really touched by reports of it, and touched by what she told these kids. (See below and there are photos and a story here.) Stuff like this can make you forget what a huge mess the country is in, and just for little while be proud that we're being led by a couple of genuine human beings.
I just love the way she hugs these kids, and I love the consternation of the secret service when she decides to greet some girls in the audience. But they couldn't do anything about it.