Friday, April 3, 2009

There’s No Wrong Way to Meet a Royal

…When you’re an Obama, that is.

Now, we flatter ourselves that our interest would not ordinarily align with that of the prying UK Daily Mail, but this once, we’ll admit that it does. Michelle Obama did something unthinkable at the G-20 Summit this week: she side-hugged the Queen of England. It was a flagrant violation of long-standing royal protocol, but it was also decidedly well-received – the Obama Effect in a nutshell.

Before the Age of Obama, the occasional, ineffectual chautauquas of the G-20 leaders were the world’s chance to hit the snooze button. It was just a bunch of gray-haired men (and Angela Merkel) quibbling over their rigid agendas and, oh yeah, the future of the world – and nothing much happened. No public engagement. No faith in leadership. No outcomes necessary.

This time, however, things were palpably different. Our pride was invested in our leader’s success, so we paid attention. And Obama knew our eyes were on him, so he made sure he shined. Brokering deals, delivering glittering orations, advancing world dreams and looking downright dapper was all in a good day’s work.

But lest heads should swell, it is our duty, as front row marchers in the sustainability movement, to point out that much more might have been said about the role renewable resources must play in our reformed economy. Although “sustainability” was certainly an undertone in conversations, specifics – as ever – were lacking. You won’t find us crying in our beer, though. A truly sustainable world economy has certain predicates, like open communication, resource-sharing,and global goodwill, and an important few of them were checked off yesterday.

We’ll leave it to the cynics to spin all the hope out of this summit. Let them say nothing changed. Or capitalism is dead. Or one trillion dollars isn’t enough. We say the London Summit was one giant leap for mankind. We leapt over multipolar jockeying and zero-sum games straight into the realm of “we’re all in this together” and “anything’s possible.” It’s almost better than the moon.

Goofy “class photos” and the President’s thumbs ups aside, nothing symbolized this progress better than the First Lady’s arm around the Queen. She captured the world with a gesture that at once represented the progressive expansion of possibility, a compassionate nod to equality, and change we can believe in.

It was just the right touch.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Well done! Agreed.