Can you pronounce your friends' names? Hold on, let's narrow that down. Can you pronounce the names of your "great friends"? Pres. Obama can't—at least when it comes to Sen. Gillibrand of New York.
PBO was at an event at GE in Schenectady, New York today, announcing his selection of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as a senior economic adviser. The president began his remarks by recognizing dignitaries in attendance. The only ones among them he identified as "great friends of mine" were the two New York senators. He then proceeded to mispronounce Gillibrand's last name.
View video after the jump.
As you'll see, PBO pronounces Gillibrand with a hard 'g,' whereas the correct pronunciation is with the soft g, as in JILL-i-brand.
Is mine a mean-spirited quibble? Perhaps. But if you're going to ostentatiously refer to someone as your "great friend", is it too much to expect you to pronounce her name correctly?
If Pres. Bush had made a similar gaffe, think the MSM would have reported it? Odds we'll hear about this one in the media?
By the way, Pres. Obama, as a pronunciation guide, in my family we like to say "Finkelstein will be just fine." Just so's you'll know next time you're introducing me as a great friend ;-)