The Drudge Report is highlighting this story about some Israelis being upset with the President for having his picture taken with his feet up on the Oval Office desk while speaking with Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the Arab world, showing the soles of your shoes to someone is a grave insult (witness freed Iraqis hitting the toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes or, more recently, the guy who threw his shoes at President Bush).
I think this is much ado about nothing, bordering on ridiculous nonsense. I am certain that President Obama meant no offense to Israelis, Arabs, shoe salesmen, cobblers, or anyone else. The entire controversy says more about how Obama is perceived in Israel, where his recent Cairo speech led to posters of Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a nuclear explosion in the background. Obama is not liked in Israel, where is policies towards the Mideast are seen as appeasement, and this kerfluffle is a reaction to the general dislike of the man.
But as I said, I don’t believe any insult was intended or should be inferred.
What does perplex me is why Obama would put his feet up on the Oval Office desk. I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan who once said that he would never even take off his suit jacket in the Oval Office because of the profound respect he had for the office. It seems to me somewhat disrespectful of his own office, just as Bill Clinton’s shenanigans with Monica Lewinsky offended me more than they normally would have if they occurred in a Days Inn instead of in the Oval Office. Again, I am certain that Obama meant no disrespect here, but the casual nature of the pose is still somewhat off putting. It’s the Oval Office of the President of the United States. Is it too much to ask you to keep your feet off the furniture, especially when speaking with foreign leaders? The desk doesn’t actually belong to you, you know.