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Obama at the Country Club

5:39 PM, Jul 9, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Remember when the press flayed Karl Rove for saying that Obama is "the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by"?

At the time, Matthew Yglesias chirped "How many Americans have had the experience of being at a country club and watching some dude with a beautiful date hold a martini and smoke a cigarette? Certainly I haven't." Indeed, not many Americans know what it's like to be at a country club.

But can anyone deny Rove's point that Obama can be snobbish at times? How many Americans share Obama's sentiment that "It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup"?

Only 4 percent of U.S. citizens traveled to Europe last year. Twice as many Americans played a round of golf.

Yglesias, echoing Julian Sanchez, writes that I called Obama a snob for saying that America should do "as good a job as other countries do of teaching our children foreign languages". That's a mischaracterization of what Obama said.

He said it's "embarrassing" that Europeans can speak French, German, and English, but Americans abroad can't. Obama was clearly taking aim at the the "ugly American" who can't speak French at a Parisian cafe. As useful as French or German might be for delving into certain fields of scholarship, those are not the languages Americans need to learn in order to work in a global economy, or as a matter of national security. Surely there are better reasons to learn foreign languages than to spare Barack Obama and his San Francisco donors a sense of embarrassment.

But for all of the charges against Obama being a flip flopper, at least we know that he's stood by his core value of being embarrassed by his countrymen.

As Obama wrote of his mother in Dreams from My Father: "She taught me to disdain the blend of ignorance and arrogance that too often characterized Americans abroad."