Tuesday, May 08, 2007

(1) Clink.
(2) Eye Contact.
(3) Sip.

Given the myriad protocols governing interactions with members of the British Royal family, it was a given that President Bush was going to insult the Queen in one way or another during last night's state dinner.

Most journalists have focused on Bush's speech gaffe earlier in the day, where he implied the Queen was over 200 years old. At this point, Bush's malapropisms and oratory blunders should surprise no one, so I'm not sure why this most recent fumbling is even news.

More frustrating was this scene:

It appears that the head of the Executive Branch does not know Thing One about toast etiquette. To keep it simple, let's just review the culmination of the average toast:

  1. Touch glasses.
  2. Eye contact with fellow toaster.1
  3. Sip.
Immediately after clinking glasses with Her Majesty, Bush looked away, set his glass on the table and looked down, leaving the Queen to feel clearly awkward and reminding us that, of late, the Special Relationship has become the Especially Awkward Relationship.

Perhaps our ever-recovering President found himself with a glass of wine in hand and didn't want to consume any. This, of course, is a laudable reason to avoid sipping, but doesn't forgive the break in etiquette. Next time you toast a titular monarch, Mr. President, remember that it's perfectly appropriate to toast with a non-alcoholic beverage.

1 During my days working with some young Dutch entrepreneurs during the dot-com bubble, I was informed of a developing toasting custom in Holland where the toasters intentionally look away, mocking the dominant custom. In this case, I'll assume that Bush wasn't mimicking Dutch hipsters.

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