It’s one of those awful rituals that U.S. presidents must suffer, and it’s happening today. President Obama will meet with the leader of a tiny, poor nation – in this case, the Dominican Republic – and pretend we care deeply about its welfare and need its help in building a better world.
Why must Obama meet with the leader of a tiny, poor Island nation? Wait a second – it’s not even an tiny island nation, it only takes up half a tiny island. The other half belongs to the God-forsaken (long ago) country of Haiti.
I mean, the Dominican Republic’s main exports to the United States are baseball players and miniature shampoo bottles stolen by Americans from its resorts. Okay, okay, there must be something else. Each of these Latin American and Caribbean nations have like one or two big exports that put them on our map. You know, Guatemala sends us bananas, Colombia sends us coffee and cocaine, Mexico sends us people, Cuba sends sugar and cigars, but not us, and so forth.
I have no idea what the Dominican Republic actually sends us. Probably it’s like cantaloupes and guavas. So Obama and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez are scheduled to spend a half hour of Obama’s valuable time talking about cantaloupes and guavas. And of course Fernandez will also complain that his country’s beaches are besotted with gunks of dry oil from the spill – and why doesn’t the U.S. send $100 million to clean it up? And also please send another $100 million for other miscellaneous problems that we can’t possibly solve ourselves, and so forth. And Obama will say, “Okay.”
Remember, not only does Obama have to meet with this guy, he has to waste time prepping for the meeting so he can agree to the Dominican Republicans requests knowledgeably and not run out of things to talk about during the meeting. (We use the term “Dominican Republican” to distinguish this man from the leader of the proud island nation of Dominca). Obama will likely spend about twenty minutes before the meeting being briefed by some dude from the State Department who has made the Dominican Republic his life’s work for some reason, and now gets his moment of glory in the Oval Office. Then, Obama will have to take about ten minutes to practice keeping a straight face while saying things like “I just had an excellent, productive meeting with President Fernandez,” and so forth.
And today the press will be invited into the Oval after the meeting, one question from a U.S. journalist, one from a Dominican Republican journalist. And the U.S. journalist will totally ignore Fernandez and ask about the news of the day, and the Dominican journalist will either ask something off the wall like “Where’s Osama Bin Laden?” or, if he’s been prepped by Fernandez, “What about that $200 million that we need from you?”
Which is why maybe this meeting isn’t worth it.