It’s in unscripted moments — when there’s no teleprompter rolling — that we get the most telling insights into the mind of President Obama. These insights were especially on view at his joint news conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Sunday in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr. Obama was asked about Malaysia’s record on “human rights, racial tolerance, political accountability and free speech” and specifically “the precarious legal position” of an opposition political leader, whose case has been taken up by Human Rights Watch, among other monitoring organizations.
“I think the prime minister is the first to acknowledge that Malaysia’s still got some work to do,” said Mr. Obama, quickly adding, “just like the United States, by the way, has some work to do on these issues.”
That not-so-subtle dig at America might have been excused as an excess of good manners, sparing his host from embarrassment by bringing up that country’s dirty laundry in a public setting. But there was more, with a gratuitous suggestion that America’s laundry is even more soiled: “Human Rights Watch probably has a list of things they think we should be doing as a government.”
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- Judy Chaffee
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