Before going to work at MSNBC, Rick Stengel had been President Obama's Undersecretary of State for "Public Diplomacy." With the sort of "public diplomacy" Stengel displayed today, we're lucky he didn't touch off WWIII!
Stengel appeared on Nicolle Wallace's MSNBC on Thursday, just after Brits Katty Kay and Keir Simmons made moving and emotion-laden statements about the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Stengel proceeded to announce that he was going to make himself "the skunk at the garden party." And man, did he deliver!
Referring to the blanket coverage of the Queen's death by U.S. media, Stengel said:
To your earlier question, why are American news networks dedicating all of this time to Queen Elizabeth's funeral? I think it's a good question. I mean, I think it's something, there's a weakness in the American character that still yearns for that era of hereditary privilege which is the very thing that, that we escaped from.
Stengel also rapped Queen Elizabeth regarding apartheid and British colonialism, "which she presided over for all these years [that] had a terrible effect on much of the world. It's something that people revolt from."
On a day like Thursday, there is something else that "much of the world" will find revolting: Rick Stengel.
Note: far from taking issue with Stengel's utterly ungracious remarks, Wallace exclaimed, "I love it!"
Also note that at the time of her remarks in Cape Town in 1947, Elizabeth was a 21-year-old princess. She wouldn't become Queen for another five years. And Elizabeth's comments in Cape Town were filled with kindness and were hardly an endorsement of apartheid.
She said: "I welcome the opportunity to speak to all the peoples of the British Commonwealth and Empire, wherever they live, whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak . . . There is none of my father's subjects from the oldest to the youngest whom I do not wish to greet."
Stengel also seemed to forget a few things. First, as the Nelson Mandela Foundation noted, the warm relationship the Queen had with the anti-apartheid leader:
By his own admission, Nelson Mandela was an anglophile, and in the years after his release from prison cultivated a close relationship with the Queen. He hosted her in South Africa and visited her in England, taking particular delight in exploring Buckingham Palace. They also talked on the phone frequently, using their first names with each other as a sign of mutual respect as well as affection.
Secondly, South Africa rejoined the British Commonwealth in 1994.
On Nicolle Wallace's MSNBC show, MSNBC's Rick Stengel saying the heavy US media coverage of Queen Elizabeth's passing reflects "a weakness in the American character" was sponsored in part by AT&T, DirecTV, Clear Choice, and Progressive.
Here's the transcript. Click "expand" to read more.
Deadline White House
4:22 PM EDT
RICK STENGEL: You know, Britain descended from Great Britain before the war to little England after the war. The Queen presided over that.
I mean, Britain is no longer a world power. What actually makes them special is the brand of royalty. That's the thing they know how to do. That's why people go there.
And I know I'm going to be the skunk at the garden party today, to use a British expression, and again, I also would pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth for her unrivaled service and dedication. But, it was her great,-great-great-grandfather George III who we rebelled from to start the United States of America.
You played a clip of her speaking in Cape Town in 1947 in South Africa. That's the year apartheid took effect in South Africa. That was something British colonialism ushered in. British colonialism, which she presided over for all these years had a terrible effect on much of the world. It's something that people revolt from.
I have to say, to your earlier question, why are American news networks dedicating all of this time to Queen Elizabeth's funeral? I think it's a good question. I mean, I think it's something, there's a weakness in the American character that still yearns for that era of hereditary privilege which is the very thing that, that we escaped from. So there, I've made myself the skunk of the garden party.
NICOLLE WALLACE: No, I love it! We're keeping it real.