Barack Obama is no J. Peterman (of Seinfeld fame)

Aside from showing himself incapable of pronouncing Aung San Suu Kyi’s name (and she’s only one of the most visible democracy activists in the world), Obama also insisted on referring to the country he visited as Myanmar.  In doing so, he showed scant respect both for U.S.-determined nomenclature and for those Burmese who lived under the repressive military regime that imposed that name on this ancient country:

Obama used the word “Myanmar,” the preferred terminology of the former military government and currently nominally civilian government, in a spray following the bilat, rather than use “Burma,” the former name of the country, and the one preferred by Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the name the U.S. uses.

“I’ve shared with him the fact that I recognize this is just the first steps on what will be a long journey,” Obama told reporters, with Thein Sein at his side. “But we think a process of democratic and economic reform here in Myanmar that has been begun by the president is one that can lead to incredible development opportunities.

Even J. Peterman, Seinfeld’s fictitious retailer of loving described adventure clothing,  knew better:

Elaine:  Mr. Peterman, you can’t leave.

Peterman: I’ve already left, Elaine. I’m in Burma.

Elaine:  Burma?

Peterman:  You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.

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  • Earl

    What can we say….the man kowtows to the Supreme Leaders of the world. 
    Should we learn anything from that?

  • David Foster

    Using language in a way that sounds erudite is one the main reasons for Obama’s appeal to a certain class of people. For example, when he pronounced “Pakistan” as “Pahk-ee-stahn,” which I guess is the right way to say it, I’m sure that many of these people–the ones who endlessly obsess about how smart they think they are–practically had orgasms.

    Same principle with Myanmar…sounds more esoteric and hence more impressive than Burma.

  • Earl

    I hear people’s mispronunciations, misuse of grammar, etc. all the time.  I’m NOT impressed by Pahkeestahn because that’s not how AMERICANS say it.  Same for Neecahrahwah, which is how you say it in Spanish.  But, we’re speaking English — American English.  The President only sounds pretentious when he does this.
    Personally, after reading this book (, I’m pretty well convinced that our country would be better off if we traded Obama brothers.  George has been through the mill, and has a much better grasp on reality than Barry.
    By the way, if you have a .99 Only store ( anywhere near – check it out…..I got George Obama’s book there for $1.00.  And I really do recommend reading it.

  • Charles Martel

    In “Singing in the Rain,” the great comedic actress Jean Hagen plays the part of Lina Lamont, a popular Silent Film era actress who is struggling to make the transition to talkies. But her voice is so grating and low-class that everybody around her knows that she’ll be DOA with audiences if they ever hear her real voice. (Which is why they have Debbie Reynolds dub for her on soundtracks, a la Marnie Dixon with Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”)
    Anyway, a running gag in the movie is where a voice coach attempts to get Hagen to improve her accent and diction by practicing the expression, “I can’t stand him.” The coach offers a plush upper-class rendition, “I cahn’t stahnd heem,” to which Hagen invariably responds with a whiny, “I can stannum!”
    Obama is Lina Lamont. In other words, he’s a vain, grating, uneducated mook. It shames me that he is my president.

  • Charles Martel

    Dixon = Nixon