Thursday, April 2, 2009

Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth (More Interesting Than Obama, Medvedev and Brown?)

The news today has been all about the G-20 summit in London.

The single biggest story, actually, was the hubbub about Michelle Obama putting her arm around Queen Elizabeth when they met yesterday (thereby breaking a strict protocol against touching the Queen).

The reports on the evening news tonight emphasized the enthusiastic reception of the Obamas by the other delegations (and by the Brits generally). The storyline is that the US has regained - by virtue of our election of Obama - its footing as a place/people/ideal that other nations admire (in this sense, the coverage is reminiscent of last August, particularly of Obama's speech in Berlin).

It's one of the more upbeat summits/gatherings/conferences I can remember -- I assume that the leaders are consciously trying to use it as a sort of pep rally to bring some joy and relief to the rest of us, and I appreciate that they are making the effort. I think these international "moments" serve the same sort of ceremonial function (in terms of focusing emotional energy) that religious and other ceremonies serve, and I am happy that the Obamas and the rest of the crowd (even Medvedev, who I saw smiling largely in one picture) are making the most of this one.

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