Image of the year: That Obama Selfie


In November, 2013 the Oxford Dictionary announced the word ‘selfie’ as the word of the year and included it in the dictionary. This December, President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark, have conspired to make their selfie, taken at the Memorial for Nelson Mandela, image of the year.

Acting like excited teenagers on a day out these world leaders got caught up in the moment and couldn’t resist taking a self-portrait of themselves. Journalists have reported that everybody else was taking pictures too, especially of the dignitaries sitting in the VIP section. Everybody, that is, except Michelle Obama whose stern look betrayed her disapproval.

In diplomatic circles, planning is essential. Itineraries are scrutinized and synchronized and the uncommon and potentially ambiguous eliminated. But sometimes ‘unplanned’ moments like President Obama shaking the hands of Raul Castro, the leader of Cuba, occur, amidst discomfort and gritted teeth. While the White House has dismissed any thawing of relations because of the handshake, Havana is gleefully playing it up as a sign of positive development. So the question for the diplomats would be was the presidential selfie with the European Prime-Ministers on the schedule?

When the initial images of the selfie surfaced, commentators described the Lady Prime Minister as unidentified until she was properly recognized as the Danish Statsminister. Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democratic party is the first female Prime Minister of Denmark and has been Prime Minister since 2005, and while she is a good looking woman she is also a handful and politically savvy, as in a single stroke of diplomatic finesse she enraptured the two leaders of the ‘free world,’ the leadership of the Anglo-American axis that arguably rule the world. Not even Thor with his divine hammer can knock up such a favorable coalition for the Danes.

But Madam Prime Minister couldn’t charm Michele who with a cold look, reminiscent of Loki, froze the ‘summit’ and broke up the coalition. The consequences of her actions could be dire. I fear that the price of Danish Cookies may soon hit the roof.



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