Something bothered me about President Obama participating in taking a picture of himself and the female Prime Minister at Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I'm no fan of President Obama, but I'm also not one who desires to ridicule our President. I too am unconvinced Michelle Obama was upset with her husband for "flirting" with the Prime Minister as others have conjectured. Truthfully, nobody--including me--knows what was going on in the minds of those in that soccer stadium as the President of the United States, the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Great Britain, and Michelle Obama waited for the funeral of Mandela to conclude. We don't know what the President was thinking, nor do we know what the First Lady was feeling, not to mention the two Prime Ministers. For that reason, it is impossible to assign motives to any of them with complete accuracy.
What we do know is what the President and the Prime Ministers did. We observed their actions. Their deeds communicate much more than their thoughts. They took a selfie picture of themselves at Nelson Mandela's funeral.
After a few days of reflection, I realized what bothered me. These three leaders of the free world seem to possess no class. Class, according to the dictionary, can be defined as "stylish elegance." Coco Chanel once said, "Elegance is refusal." Class involves the ability to say no. President Obama and his two friends possessed no class when it came time to take a selfie. They might plead ignorance to the fact that even pop culture considers selfies at funerals the height of distaste. What I find inexcusable is the absence of internal and personal systems of control within our western leaders that would lead them to resist the frivolous urge for a selfie.
Ronald Reagan, whether you agreed with his politics or not, was a President with class. He restrained himself in public. If stylish elegance is the ability to refuse then it must be said the photograph taken at Mandel's funeral was neither stylish, nor elegant, nor classy. Why the lack of class?
It's difficult to say. It is an axiom, however, that democratic leaders only reflect the character of her people. America seems to have lost it collective understanding of what it means to be a classy people.