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January 29, 2015

Protocol: A Finger in the Eye

Harry M. Covert

The business of protocol is important. Call it what you will, but good manners, dignity and courtesy are always best. Times most often call for posterior osculations around the world and with locals of various cultures and politics.


First Lady Michelle Obama has had her share of criticisms, probably more than most. Most recently she has been reproached for not wearing a head covering when meeting the new royals in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. I am in her corner on this issue. It took lots of mettle and chutzpah for her not to risk spoiling her hairdo. Don’t forget she was representing us and supporting the President of the United States.


A burqa-wearing woman appeared in a Virginia detention center (read that jail) in an effort to bail her husband from the infidels. It was only $5,000. Before she could pay the bondsman’s fee, a magistrate politely told her to remove the head-dressing or leave. His Honor wasn’t being discourteous. He explained the illegality for any adult in Virginia to wear a face-mask. This included any persons who may be religious, atheist, Democrat-Republican-Independent, or the Lone Ranger. Halloween night wasn’t even near.


The bondsman was eager to help the inmate get his freedom. He calmly suggested the wife, or significant other, walk outside away from the sheriff and magistrate. Doing his professional duty, he said, (this is an exact quote): “You can give me the $500 cash fee now and Mohammed will be released.” It was a touching moment. In further niceties, he attempted to shake her hand. “I don’t shake hands with men,” she said.


Friends, Mrs. Obama is to be commended for standing her ground in Riyadh. And, she shook hands with the new King. Imagine if the Secret Service had not been close by? The religious police would have jumped in.


I recall a breakfast with the late Mobutu Sese Seko, president of Zaire. He walked to the table. Everybody jumped to attention, including the French chef. After being introduced, he grinned, then laughed at me. I was properly dressed in blue suit, dark tie. I didn’t know that my name pronounced “haricot ver” in French was “green beans” in translation.


It was fun after a moment of awkwardness. Our international relief project continued without a hitch.


During a Central American visit from San Salvador to a military base near the Nicaraguan border, I was the last man leaving the aircraft. Stepping to the ground, I saluted snappily the diminutive welcoming Salvadoran colonel. Sure, he thought I was significant. Wrong. For that moment I received the best seat, protection and flowing fresh coffee. Also, a bullet-proof vest was provided for the return trip to Salvador’s capital. We could see the shooting during the ride. I sat on my vest.


I’ve always had a special place in my heart for FLOTUS (First Lady of the U.S). British newspapers love to practice no holds barred journalism. While they may like the Obamas, they can be hurtful.


Back in October 2009, Sunday Telegraph columnist Stephen Bayley took off on Michelle Obama. Frederick politicians should take notice. In London, columnists and reporters were giving the O’s a real beating. They were mad for the alleged snubbing of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Now here is exactly what Columnist Bayley wrote: “Michelle Obama has a classic callipygian figure. This is the word the Greeks had for ‘fat bottom.’ Her wardrobe selection emphasizes these posterior curves without exaggerating them. And long gym sessions doing grip-flip triceps pushdowns and hammer curls add to her statuesque qualities.”


Not nice, no matter what partisanship is out there. Apologies are probably in order to the First Lady from me even bringing this up.


She has made a statement on behalf of girls and women in Islamic/Arabic societies around the world who truly have little or no regard for women. I have more true stories from personal files.


Once in Banjul, The Gambia, during a food distribution program, locals were shooing away all the girls from the plates until all of the boys had their first and second helpings. I spotted one girl wearing a Tidewater Virginia television station tee-shirt. She was knocked to the ground. I reached out and put her in the front of the line. Now this was not a popular action. A colleague filmed the incident. She received food and all of the school supplies she could take. The episode did air a few days later.


I hope the First Lady enjoyed the finger in the eye of all the old guys. I know a bunch of people who do and would have. And, for a moment, recall the music reviewer who dared criticize a presidential daughter’s singing recital.


Us modern day objugators are something else.



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