Which president is which? In a major political gaffe Democratic Senator Harry Reid mixed up the identities of South African President Jacob Zuma and American President Barack Obama. The incident occurred at a plenary session of the United Nations, as Obama was greeting Zuma. Senator Reid walked up to Obama, grasped his hand, and said, "Mr. Zuma it is truly an honor to meet the leader of the great nation of South Africa". Apparently realizing what he had just done Senator Reid went into a paroxysm of coughing as Obama stood looking incredulous and Zuma at first pretended not to have noticed then developed a preoccupation with his cufflinks.
Asked about the incident, Reid was defensive. "Of course I can recognize the President of the United States", claimed Reid, "but the lighting in the room was appalling and I was wearing my reading glasses rather than my normal glasses. I asked an aide where Mr. Zuma was and he pointed me in that direction."
This is not the first time that Reid has been embroiled in embarrassing issues regarding President Obama. During the Democratic primary race Reid incredibly described the future president as being a viable presidential candidate because he is "a light-skinned African American with no Negro dialect, unless he want(s) to have one". In the storm of protest that ensued Reid apologized profusely to anyone who would listen regarding his "poor choice of words."
Questions have arisen regarding Sen. Reid's fitness to stay in office. "I think Harry may be losing it" confided one aide who wished to remain anonymous. "These days he is sounding more and more like Joe Biden. Last week we actually heard him referring to Nancy Pelosi as 'my girl' and he seems to be increasingly relying upon her to order for him at restaurants, adjust his tie, or point him toward the men's room".
Political analysts agree that there may be a problem. In the words of one pundit, "No matter how old and fossilized a white dude Harry may be, he does not get a free pass on this one. We're way beyond the days when you can say that black Presidents all look alike, and somebody needs to let him know it".