The Rest of Everything You Need (?) To Know About Obama's Trip To Prague


We were listening to our palDoug Arellanes deejaying in the early hours of Saturday, from Radio 1 in Prague, and then somehow we figured he should file a dispatch regarding What's His Name, the Muslim president, and his visit to the Czech Republic to talk to some out-of-work politicians about ending nuclear bombs or something. Ha, and then another pal in town offered to send in some reports, and what the hell, they both did. How do you say "Truck Nutz" in Czech, anyway? YOU WILL SOON FIND OUT.

Here, in handy bullet-point format, is the stuff from Doug:

  • Barack Obama made great efforts to refer to Czech cultural sensitivities, namedropping the father of the nation, Tomáš Garrigue Masarýk, for example, and even trying his hand at a longstanding tradition among American presidents: Mangling some Czech phrases.
  • There were other interesting items of cross-cultural protocol, such as introducing Michelle as Paní Obamová. The Czechs do like their -ovás.
  • My favorite nod to local cultural sensitivies, though, was the fact that there were stands selling beer at the speech. At 9 am. On a Sunday morning.
  • After the speech, and after the informal EU-US summit (although the Czech government fell last week, the Czech Republic still holds the European presidency until the end of June), Obama had a private meeting with Václav Havel. Havel warned Obama about getting people's hopes up too high. This was a topic Havel had personal experience with as the guy who led the Velvet Revolution, saw hopes go sky-high, served two mostly ceremonial five-year terms as president, and lost a lung.
  • Havel's a funny guy, by the way, and I recommend "Občan Havel (Citizen Havel)," a behind-the-scenes documentary covering his 10 years in office.
  • Oh, one last bit of cross-cultural trivia for you: Truck Nutz translates as "Kamionové koule." So.

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