Mr. Obama's arrival in China for the G-20 summit was somewhat perplexing as no properly placed stairway and accompanying red carpet were supplied at the airport.
State Department officials are studying this development but have dispensed with calling it "provocative" for the moment.
In contrast to Mr. Putin, who received the red carpet treatment, Mr. Obama was forced to use a rear exit of Air Force One, and brave the cold bare cement on exiting his jet.
A Chinese official who requested anonymity commented, "Well, we dispensed with the official stairway and red carpet because they were not requested."
In turn, a US official traveling with the president who requested anonymity stated, "Yes, but the indispensable nature of the stairway and red carpet ought to be taken for granted."
Mr. Putin's stairway and red carpet were supplied, and the Russian leader used this most excellent arrival to cast his personal spell over the G-20 conference immediately.
A Russian spokesperson requesting anonymity explained, "We know the protocols and did request the proper equipment for our leader's arrival. It is not wise to dispense with procedures. After all it is their airport."
This their airport was further elaborated when Mr. Obama's assistant Susan Rice broke protocol in moving around a rope meant to stipulate restraints on US journalists accompanying the president.
Some words passed between Ms. Rice and a Chinese official, who felt forced to remind her: "This is our country and our airport!"
Ms. Rice is reported to have responded (not yet confirmed): "Yes, but we are dignitaries and require respect. That is indispensable."
This unsettling and undignified arrival for the President, forced to evacuate Air Force One "out the arse end," as one anonymous sergeant major accompanying the flight put it, was further roiled when the president's motorcade was interrupted.
Little Chinese boys swarmed forward causing blockage as they approached the windows of Mr. Obama's limousine holding up containers of ice cream.
"Indispensable Chinese ice cream!" they shouted. "You take home. Very nice. You love it!"
Analysts later theorized this development was a "satirical playlet" in which the Chinese boys were mimicking Mr. Putin's gift of Russian ice cream to China's President Xi.
Mr. Obama was unruffled throughout these events, which some might have wondered about as assault on presidential dignity.
"Of course the press is indispensable," Mr. Obama said. "It should accompany us at every step, that's all it was. As to the ice cream, well--"
US reporters craned forward, cameras blinking.
"I like the dime store dispensary style myself. You know, the drumstick with peanuts? As to the red carpet, ahm . . . ?"
Reporters leaned further forward.
"Susan was dispensed into other tasks at that time, and just plain forgot to put in our order. That's all it is. No need to overcrank on it."