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A Shakespeare Refresher for President Obama

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Posted on May 25, 2011

But did he use the right fork?: Obama’s knack for public speaking didn’t fully kick in during his Buckingham Palace visit Tuesday.

He didn’t say he was a jelly doughnut, but President Obama wasn’t quite up to snuff during his visit to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night. First, there was the matter of his talking over “God Save the Queen” during his toast to Queen Elizabeth II, and then, as New York Post film critic Kyle Smith argued Wednesday on his own blog, a reference he made to England from Shakespeare’s “Richard II” as he raised his glass was not complimentary in the original text.

Or was it? Fans of iambic pentameter, click on the link below and decide for yourselves.

The famous quotation from “Richard II” — “this scepter’d isle, this blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England” — used to be used in an airline commercial. It was foolishly misused then as it was by Obama. ... The “Richard II” mistake is worse than these — because that John of Gaunt speech is a huge slam on England of the day. The whole point of the speech is that England’s glory days (as of the 14th century, when the play is set!) are long past and what’s left is a wasteland. Moreover, Gaunt says this at the end of the very same (long) sentence people are always quoting as a tribute to the magnificence of that “precious stone set in the silver sea.”

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The Telegraph captured the moment in action in this video clip (via YouTube):

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By hrayovac, May 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

All right, you don’t need me here..I just registered at Truthdig so I could get some
viewpoints I don’t get at AolHuffpost, the devil corporate behemoth bent on taking
away your bongs. But do you people keep up with the news or do you only talk to
each other? The article referenced here is of course wrong. The band playing over
the speech was a bandleader’s miscue ..Not Obama’s. Not the Queen’s either. Not
Wall Street. Not Trump. Not neo-liberals. And Kennedy’s usage was correct but
that would be an old myth.

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By SoTexGuy, May 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

.. and what pearl of wit and wisdom and reading did Netanyahu leave in Congress? .. to dozens of standing ovations?

Israel transcendent?

With the help and connivance of AIPAC and the souls they’ve purchased.. perhaps this will be made so!

The contrast between the way the words of our president and those of a foreign leader are simultaneously treated and mistreated in the press and the blogs is a national disgrace. And no, I am not a supporter of what Obama has been doing.

Come on..  just a little bit of USA! USA! might be in order every now and then. Anyway, who the heck cares exactly what he says to those fossils? .. even as cute as they sometimes can be. It’s all old theatre..

Have a great day.

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By James, May 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How old are you people? The reading as given by Mr. Obama has been used publicly in that exact context forever! Where have you been? If anything, I would have accused him (or his advisors) of being redundant.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, May 26, 2011 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

Much ado about nothing, except Kyle Smith and whoever posted this made fools out of themselves.  ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing.’

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By Sylvia Morris, May 26, 2011 at 1:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Obama clearly hadn’t been properly briefed on the etiquette of the occasion but it was hardly a major gaffe. As for the Shakespeare reference, it was great for him to quote this wonderful speech about England, because the end of it where John of Gaunt slags off the current government doesn’t negate the first part where he praises “this dear dear land”, as a “precious stone set in a silver sea”.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, May 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Could have been worse; he might have thrown up on the queen.

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By Steven Podvoll, May 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it fair to surmise the author of this piece has succumbed to urban myths
about President Kennedy’s Berlin speech.  I suggest researching facts before
making ignorant and/or snarky inferences.

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