The President, during a NATO press-conference yesterday, referred to the language of Austria as "Austrian," a malapropism that would have left 19th and 20th Century European statesmen and historians absolutely speechless. (video here)
We skeptics are endless assured that our Columbia University and Harvard Law School educated President knows better about everything. No doubt he does, but possibly Obama was too busy studying community organizing to pay much attention to central European history, and all that boring Großdeutschland/Kleindeutschland, Otto von Bismarck, Anschluss Österreichs, World War I, World War II stuff. Possibly I'm nitpicking just a bit (Hell, I admit it), but the man who discovered the "Austrian" language is clearly just the fellow to get us on better terms with Europe, eh?
Maybe I should give the fellow a break. Certainly, the press is -- James Fallows writes in his blog at The Atlantic:
He [Obama] also appeared to refer to the language of Austria as "Austrian," thus: "I don't know how you say it in Austrian, but we call it wheeling-dealing." If this had been GW Bush, it would have been taken as an obvious gaffe, as in his calling the residents of Greece "Grecians." Here you can't be sure whether it's a plain error or a knowing casualism, as in saying that Australians speak "Australian" -- eg, in the ad that says, "Foster's: Australian for 'beer.' "
Now folks, that's true journalistic skill. Admit a double standard, and make it positively sound rational, and do it in a tres gentil way. Yes, you silly unwashed rubes, the Great One may have slipped, but he's the Man of Hope. Now if Bush had talked about some Austrian language, you can bet your last Euro that Fallows is right and the journos would have jumped all over Bush like the Gestapo did to Austrians who didn't vote Ja on the Anschluss. But times have changed, and the Eurolefties that run things across the pond, Obama's spiritual brothers, are likely to declare Austrian a language if it would make the Sainted One look good.