Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came calling at the White House on Friday. It’s too bad the president wasn’t on hand to greet him. Vice President Kamala Harris was pressed into service to do the grip-and-grin with Suga, with nary an explanation of where her boss, The Big Guy, might be resting up.
Harris, as PJM’s Stacey Lennox reported, botched the welcome of the first foreign head of state to visit the White House during the Biden-Harris (or is it Harris-Biden) administration. Judging by what happened when our enfeebled president rose from bed to make nice with Suga, it may have been better for U.S.-Japanese relations if Biden had stayed away and let Harris make a fool of herself.
Instead, Biden plunged ahead and offended Suga, the Japanese people, Asians of any nationality, and the English language when he offered this scintillating observation.
“Yoshi, I know how proud you are — the people of Japan are — and you’ve got a Japanese boy coming over here, and guess what? He won the Masters. He won the Masters. He won the green jacket,” Biden said in the Rose Garden.
“And [Hideki] Matsuyama was the first Japanese player to take home that green jacket at the Masters tournament this week. So let me say congratulations to Japan as well on that feat.”
Biden doesn’t pay much attention to Japanese media. If he did, he would have known how idiotic it was to praise Matsuyama when the entire nation of Japan has made him a media superstar overnight. Of course Suga knew he won the Masters. If you lived in Japan over the last week, you couldn’t have missed that fact.
Suga is used to these barbarian Westerners making a hash of something as simple as a formal greeting, so he, like all Japanese leaders, has practiced patience — which is an excellent antidote to the inevitable slights given by the relatively young nations of Europe and North America.
But you can imagine the conversations Suga had with his advisors in private when he got back to Blair House after the ceremony.
Biden’s “Japanese boy” reference brings to mind his painful observations about Barack Obama back in 2007.
“I mean, you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man,” Biden said.
Obama accepted Biden’s “apology,” but became testy when pointing out that calling a black presidential candidate “articulate” was an insult.
“I didn’t take Sen. Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate,” Obama said. “African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”
It must be said for the record: If Trump had said “Japanese boy” in reference to any Asian, there would have been demonstrations, editorials, media meltdowns — the whole anti-Trump smash-up.
It appears that Biden can’t do anything to “screw the pooch.” He has a free pass for the next four years.