President Barack Obama’s visit to Ireland certainly garnered massive coverage in the Irish press as the nation was awe-struck by the 14th Irish American president’s presence. However, some of the reaction in the US to his trip to Ireland wasn’t quite so cheery.
Rush Limbaugh’s reaction to the visit caused quite a stir. Speaking on his Premiere Radio Networks radio show, was that perhaps the American public should start calling him "Paddy" and said Obama was a “totally disingenuous guy.” The host went on to say that the trip was a trick for his 2012 campaign.
Frank James on his NPR blog had a similar view but used a less condemnatory tone. On the “It’s All Politics” blog, he said that although people may be reading “too much into President Obama's trip to Ireland” he sees the political advantages of the trip. He said the advantages do not lie in wining Irish American and Catholic votes as these “voters cut across the political and ideological spectrum."
The value of Obama’s visit, according to James is that it emphasized how deeply rooted Obama’s roots are in Ireland, his mother’s family arrived before the Civil War. He says the trip was also a subtle reminder to the voters “that the president is part white." He also commented that the trip came conveniently just after the “birther” frenzy had died down.
James believes that “the story of Obama's Irish connection is Obama's message to those voters that he "gets" them, he understands them.” He believes that it “shouldn't surprise anyone if we see video footage of the president's trip to Ireland show up down the road in Obama campaign ads.”
CNN photojournalist, Barry Schlegel was part of the press pool following Obama around Ireland last Monday. Being of Irish descent himself, but never having visited Ireland, Obama’s homecoming proved an emotional experience for the Schlegal.
He explained that his mother’s maiden name was Creegan and his family had also arrived to the US in the 1800s and had fought for the Union in the Civil War. Schlegal grew up singing Irish songs surrounded by his Irish-American aunts. He said “We sang Irish songs, and felt ancestral pride in "the Emerald Isle.'”
He continued “As President Obama celebrates his discovered Irish roots, I’ve gotten a too short chance to celebrate mine as well. As I covered the President’s speech before a rousing crowd at College Green I think it wasn’t just the bitter wind that caused a tear to well up in my eye, but my own reflections on the shadows of people I never knew, but loved anyhow.”
Fox News journalist Cal Thomas was confounded by the public and media reaction to Obama’s visit and the utter “media bias." He was on the ground in Ireland to record Ireland’s reaction to Obama’s presence. Their responses, though perhaps a little baffling, were hilarious.
Thomas stopped a high school aged student who said she “loved" Obama and then “I hate President Bush ... I hate all American presidents."
He asked “Even George Washington?” and she responded “Yes."
Another man said that he was proud to see a Kenyan man as the American President as he had family in Kenya.
Thomas commented “Most of those with whom I spoke had the spirit of people about to attend a concert with their favorite rock star.” The city did put on a pretty good show including Ryan Sheridan, Imelda May, the Coronas and perhaps more embarrassingly Jedward and Westlife.
Thomas commented that “Obama was above criticism for the media here [in Ireland and Britain] ... Media bias is not the sole property of American journalists. It has roots in Ireland and Great Britain, too and it has been on full display during the Obama visit.”
Whatever the US media might think of Obama’s visit to Ireland the Irish have most certainly welcomed Obama with open arms. The “Yes We Can” attitude and day of festivities which has been nicknamed “Obama Day” was wholeheartedly welcomed by a country who needed to have its spirits lifted. If Obama wanted the Irish on-side, it seems he most certainly won them over.
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