On a history-making trip, President Barack Obama on Monday paid the first visit by an American leader to Myanmar and Cambodia, two Asian countries with troubled histories, one on the mend and the other still a cause of concern.
However, as the president addressed a crowd at Myanmar’s University of Yangon on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sitting in the crowd, seemingly fell asleep in the middle of his speech.
Mediaite explains the series of events:
CNN’s cameras first checked in with Secretary Clinton about fifteen minutes into the speech, seated next to Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now a member of Burma/Myanmar’s parliament. Sec. Clinton appeared engaged, if a little bit blinky, but by the time the President’s remarks were nearing their finale, the reaction shot was somewhat more, shall we say, subdued:
To be fair, it is no surprise that she would be exhausted and perhaps a little jet lagged. Further, Obama’s speech, given in the middle of the day, wasn’t exactly exhilarating.
“You’re taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people,” Obama said during a speech at Myanmar’s University of Yangon.
Obama was an early champion of Myanmar’s sudden transformation to civilian rule following a half-century of military dictatorship. He’s rewarded the country, also known as Burma, with eased economic penalties, increased U.S. investment and now a presidential visit, in part to show other nations the benefits of pursuing similar reforms.
Obama’s visit to Myanmar was also viewed critically by some international organizations, which saw the trip as a premature reward for a country that still holds political prisoners and has been unable to contain ethic violence.
Aware of that criticism, Obama tempered some of his praise for Myanmar during his six-hour visit. He underscored that the reforms that have taken hold over the past year are “just the first steps on what will be a long journey.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.