A president by any other name ...
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama meet in Washington on Sept. 16. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
By Neil Macdonald, CBC News, Washington
So Prime Minister Stephen Harper now calls President Obama “Barack.”
"First of all, Barack, I really appreciate this, this is our seventh time in some form or another we've had a chance to discuss some of these issues..."
Actually, this is not as inappropriate as it seemed. (The Globe and Mail today called it almost unheard of.)
The fact is, members of the World Leader Club often do use first names or even casual monikers with one another. Jean Chrétien once told me he quickly started calling Russia's President Yeltsin “Boris,” and President Clinton “Bill.”
British PM Tony Blair called America’s last president “George,” and Bush was once caught on tape calling “Yo, Blair!” Bush loved that sort of thing. It didn’t take him long to start calling Harper “Steve,” either, a few years back.
It’s the feeling of shared responsibility, Chrétien explained. It just usually takes a little while to get there.
The fastidiously correct Obama, though, evidently takes longer than others. While the Canadian leader was “Baracking” him right off the bat, Obama referred to his visitor consistently as “Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”
(That evidently wasn’t respectful enough for Harper’s foreign affairs entourage, which released an embellished transcript of the remarks, quoting Obama as saying “Hello everybody. RT HON STEPHEN HARPER and I have just had an excellent conversation ...“)
Anyway, today Harper is off to Capitol Hill and some photo ops with the more bareknuckle Congressional bunch. If he’s lucky they’ll get his name right, and he won’t have to stand there, embarrassed, the way Jean Chrétien did a few years back when then Senate majority leader Trent Lott told reporters “We’re delighted to have Prime Minister Krestain with us today.”
That’s RT HON Krestain to you, pal.
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