Becket wrote earlier about Obama's non-apology to Polish President Bronisław Komorowski for referring to the Nazi death camps of World War II as "Polish death camps." But it wasn't Obama's only snub at the expense of the Polish this week...
Earlier this week, President Obama bestowed upon 13 honorees the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. Among them was Jan Karski, a member of the Polish underground during World War II who was the first to provide eyewitness evidence of the Nazis' systematic extermination of Jews in occupied Europe. Karski's posthumous recognition was obviously well-deserved and former Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld was on-hand to accept the honor. This good gesture was overshadowed, however, by another snub by the Obama White House.
The Poles reportedly wanted former Polish President Lech Walesa to be there to accept the Medal for Karski, but the Obama White House reportedly nixed the idea. Administration officials told Polish journalists that Mr. Walesa's presence at this week's occasion would have been too "political," but the Poles aren't buying the excuse.
Last year during Obama's visit to Poland, Walesa -- an iconic Cold War dissident, co-founder of the Solidarity movement and good friend of the United States -- declined an invitation to attend a large gathering with Obama. Mr. Walesa instead insisted on a one-on-one discussion with his fellow Nobel Prize winner, but the Obama team declined.
Fast-forward to this week's Medal of Freedom ceremony and Walesa's exclusion is being interpreted by many Poles as a grudge held by Obama.
And this week's missteps are hardly the first insulting moves by Obama. The New York Post reminds us of others from earlier in Obama's short tenure:
In 2009, he courted Russia’s overlords by revoking a missile-defense-shield agreement Poland had reached with President Bush. (Astonishingly, that rejection came on the 70th anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin pact, which had carved up Poland between the USSR and Germany.)
In 2010, Obama skipped the funeral of Polish President Lech Kazcynski, who died — along with most of the country’s government — in a horrific plane crash. Volcanic eruptions prevented the president and other leaders from attending the memorial — but Obama offended Poles at home and abroad when he was seen golfing that day.
Petty and profound, these slights are stacking up, which is deeply unfortunate. Poland has been one of America’s staunchest allies since it emerged from beneath the Soviet boot.
It deserves better.