By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Feb. 09, 2009
She chased him last June when he was still Presidential Candidate Barack Obama.
She chased him again last November when he had become President-elect Barack Obama.
And she chased him again last week now that he was President Barack Obama.
If this isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.
But in all three instances, he did not even give her the time of day.
He, as head-of-state and head-of government of his country, did not even acknowledge her presence as a visiting head-of-state and head-of-government in his speech in a public forum attended by more than 4,000 guests.
In some cultures, such a deliberate snub would have called for ritual suicide on the part of the snubbed. Instead, the visit – among us mere mortals, such behavior is known as “stalking” for which some people have been sent to jail – is being touted by her fawning courtiers as a “success.”
In my article Weird (June 30, 2008), I tried to fathom why President Arroyo went to the US on a 10-day visit at the height of the US presidential campaign. During this visit, she was humiliated by being forced to hold a press conference on the sidewalk of a busy DC street, while motor vehicles in the background struggled through traffic.
She also went out of her way to visit Defense Secretary Robert Gates at his Pentagon office for a 30-minute chat, instead of him paying a courtesy call on her at her hotel as would have befitted a visiting head-of-state and head-of-government.
I came to the conclusion in that article that the real purpose of the 10-day visit was to have a face-to-face encounter with the devastating Barack Obama, on whom tens of millions of white American girls and women, including the likes of Caroline Kennedy and Scarlett Johansson, had schoolgirl crushes.
But Obama proved an elusive prey, even for a visiting head-of-state. “He was a no-show at their only scheduled (by Malacanang) ‘possible’ meeting. And he kept on being somewhere else whenever she went to New York or to Washington. Was he avoiding her? But he did call her on the phone and they talked, according to Malacanang, for 30 minutes.
But it was a heart-breaking snub. The Republican candidate John McCain at least met with her at her hotel and gave her 15 minutes of his time. But not Barack.
That was not the end of her self-inflicted humiliation. In my article titled Obama and Gloria (Nov. 17, 2008), I wrote that “when President-elect Obama received congratulatory telephone calls from dozens of world leaders, including President Arroyo, Obama returned the telephone calls of only nine of them - the leaders of the most important countries – and Arroyo was not one of them.
“When Arroyo went to the US early this month (November 2008), ostensibly to speak before a United Nations forum on interfaith dialogue” – she did not attend these fora in any previous year – “Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that meeting Obama was ‘high’ on her agenda.
“But there was no meeting with (President-elect) Obama, even though President Arroyo made a two-hour stop-over in Chicago – Obama’s home base – ostensibly to talk to the Filipino community there….” Obama did not bother to be there at the same time.. Snub Number Two. .
But if there is one thing that can be said of President Arroyo, it is that she is persistent. After making a forgettable speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and visiting with the Filipino community in Milan, and signing some deals with some Arabs in Bahrain, President Arroyo suddenly flew off to Washington DC instead of home, to attend a National Prayer Breakfast – which she has never attended in previous years – probably with the heart-stopping expectation that, Now she will finally be face-to-face with the elusive Obama.
“She is one of the chosen world leaders who were invited to attend the annual event. US President Obama will speak during the event,” an unnamed Malacanang official cooed to the Standard Today (Feb. 3). Oh, God, at last! But which “world leaders” might those be? Ah…..Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Bulgarian Defense Minster Nikolay Tsonev..”
Tsong, mukang walang ibang head-of-state or head-of-government. Si Gloria lang. What the hell kind of invitation was this, anyway? Probably one wangled by Malacanang’s PR retainer in Washington DC, who, I understand, gets paid some $25 million a year..
But there was no meeting with Obama, again. The US President supposedly arrived late, gave his speech, and then was hustled off. Snubbed again, for the third time. Didn’t Obama see Gloria in the audience, sitting right next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? He did not even acknowledge her presence in the preface to his speech. What an insult!
President Arroyo had to settle for the next best thing kuno. A 30-minute chat with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ladled out the usual consuelo de bobo palaver that Filipino politicians love to hear, namely that the Philippines is “one of our closest and most important allies, not just in Asia, but on so many issues around the world. ”
But one must ask? Why is President Arroyo so eager to have a one-on-one meeting with Barack Obama that she is willing to suffer almost any humiliation or insult just to have that meeting? And why is Barack Obama just as adamant in snubbing her?
I would assign the first attempt to meet with him to a schoolgirl crush. But I think the second and third attempts were propelled by a more serious animus, perhaps a desire to convince Obama why it was necessary for her to remain in power beyond 2010, even if it needed a shift to the parliamentary system, or even a declaration of martial law.
If that reading is correct, then Obama’s snub of her the second and third times must be interpreted as his rebuff of her maneuvers, that he will have no truck with her attempts to stay in power beyond 2010.
In his inaugural address last January 20, President Obama had famously warned that To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist……”
In my article Obama’s Warning (Jan. 26, 2009), I had written that this was not a specific warning to GMA, but a generic warning to a group of world leaders that could include President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and the leaders of Hezbollah (Hassan Nasrallah), Hamas, Taliban (the one-eyed Mullah Omar), and al-Qaeda (Osama bin Laden), plus possibly our very own President Arroyo.
But after the third snub, I would scratch out the leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas, Taliban and al-Qaeda since they would not have been given US visas to land on US soil in the first place. Nor would they have wanted to attend a Christian Prayer Breakfast led by the hated Crusaders.
I would also cross out Presidents Putin, Ahmadinejad and Chavez. Their presence in a public forum would have been duly acknowledged by President Obama, and he would not have hesitated to meet with any or all of them, in keeping with his campaign promise to sit down and talk even with those who harbored ill will towards US..
That would leave President Mugabe and President Arroyo as the apparent sole objects of Obama’s Warning. As far as I know, Mugabe has not been snubbed by Obama even once. On the other hand, President Gloria has been snubbed, not once but three times. *****
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