Obama: The selfie President grinning for the camera on the day a solemn world mourns Mandela
Published 11/12/2013 | 11:10
When you are President of the United States of America and attending a globally broadcast memorial service in honour of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, there are a few things you would not be expected to do:
Blow rasperries would be one. Moon from your corporate box would be another. Snog the missus might be a third.
And in fairness to Barack Obama he did none of those things. But what he did do came close.
America's first black president, who was in South Africa to honour the passing of the most influential black figure since Martin Luther King, allowed himself to be part of a selfie threesome.
Selfies are an idiotic phenomenon where people who are too vain, stupid or bored to think of something better to do with their time take pictures of themselves on their smart phones.
I wouldn't have thought that Obama was any of those things, but even if he was, surely there are enough rooms in the White House for him to indulge his passion?
But not in front of a potential audience of a billion on this day of all days.
True, it wasn't his phone. It belonged to Danish pastry Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who should have known better too. The third participant was British premier David Cameron, who would take any opportunity to keep the UK in the picture with the US.
But don't mind them. They're just suck-ups. Do you think for a minute that Taoiseach Enda Kenny would have demurred in such circumstances?
Obama is already feeling the backlash as the whole world does a collective tut-tut, but you only have to take in the look of reproach on Mrs President's face to know that he won't have to wait for the opinion polls to feel the heat on this one.
In fact, it may be no exaggeration to suppose that the most powerful man in the world will be strapped into naughty seat for the flight home on Airforce One.
But should we really be disappointed by anything Obama does anymore?
If his first term was underwhelming, his second seems an exercise in policy minimalism. Washington watchers have long commented on his lack of engagement, his aloofness and even his intellectual arrogance.
Would he even be there if the Republicans didn't continually to extract defeats from the jaws of victory? And would Obama still be on Pennsylvania Ave if the GOP had fought a competent election campaign in 2011?
When the history of his two terms is written his only legacy will be Obamacare and perhaps the fact that America snooped on its allies like never before during his watch.
He might even be remembered as the Selfie President. The Chief who gooned for the camera on the day a solemn world honoured Nelson Mandela.