Doesn’t Obama Know What Year It Is? President Signs Westminster Abbey Guestbook 2008

Doesn’t Obama Know What Year It Is? President Signs Westminster Abbey Guestbook 2008 – Daily Mail

Everyone wishes they could turn back the clock sometimes, and it turns out Barack Obama is no different.

He got the date wrong by three years when he signed the guestbook at Westminster Abbey today on his official visit to the UK – despite apparently asking the dean what day it was.

As a tough election looms next year and he faces criticism for his handling of the financial crisis, perhaps Mr Obama wished it was indeed May 24, 2008, when he was still a rising superstar.

It was the second tricky moment of his day – as Mr Obama was in the middle of a royal toast when the orchestra seemed to misunderstand a pause and began playing ‘God Save the Queen’ too early.

The visit comes just a month after millions watched as Prince William married Kate Middleton in the Abbey – an occasion to which the Obamas were not invited.

Following a tradition set by former presidents Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before going into the nave to sign a heartfelt message in the Distinguished Visitors’ Book.

After apparently asking the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall, for the date, he wrote: ‘It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage and our common sacrifice’.

Even the First Lady affectionately stroking his back as he wrote – and then signing the book after him – couldn’t stop him making the gaffe.

Three years ago today Mr Obama was campaigning in Puerto Rico, as he fought a fierce battle in the Democratic primaries against Hillary Clinton.

On the same day, he accepted Mrs Clinton’s apology for saying she was staying in the race because of her memory of Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

And, with what now seems like ironic foresight, he said: ‘I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Senator Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make, and I think that is what happened here.’

Although he eventually lost that primary, he went on to take the nomination and then the presidency amid a surge of support.

Since then, his popularity ratings have fallen as the effects of the financial crisis took their toll on unemployment rates.

It’s not the first time Mr Obama has made a gaffe.

During his inauguration ceremony, he made a mistake in his oath and had to be sworn in a second time to make him the legal president, and the following year he joked his bowling skills were ‘like the special Olympics or something’.

But the Obamas still received a warm welcome from a crowd who gathered outside the Abbey, chanting ‘we love you, we love you’.

And his wife, Michelle, made the choirboys laugh when he teased the president for his poor singing ability.

After the visit, Dr Hall said: ‘It was very friendly, very relaxed, very charming and he is a friendly nice person and so is Mrs Obama.’

Later a spokesman for Westminster Abbey confirmed Mr Obama wrote the date himself.

The incident happened on a day when he was also out of sync with time in a different way.

Mr Obama was toasting the Queen when the orchestra misunderstood a pause in his speech and believed he was giving them a queue to begin playing the British National Anthem.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, please stand with me and raise your glasses as I propose a toast,’ Mr Obama said as he picked up his glass. ‘To her majesty the Queen.’

As he paused, the orchestra began to play and he continued speaking over the music.


‘The vitality of the special relationship between our peoples and for the words of Shakespeare to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’

The Queen looked ahead as the National Anthem was being played. Then as he lifted his glass to her, there was an awkward moment as she forced out an embarrassed smile.

However nobody drank from their glasses because the song was playing – but then once it had finished everybody raised a glass to conclude the awkward moment.

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