Barack Obama has been caught out using a recycled sound-bite to praise Denmark. The US President rolled out his favourite boxing pun – used to flatter small nations on three previous occasions – when Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen visited the White House last week.
Referring to Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, Obama told Rasmussen that, “Denmark is a country that –using an American phrase – punches above its weight”.
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten pointed out, however, that the expression is very similar to one the Commander and Chief used in 2009 when talking to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. “Norway has always stood shoulder to shoulder with the USA, and like I told the prime minister, there is a phrase we use in the US – a boxing phrase – Norway is punching above its weight,” said Obama.
But the Nordic nations are not exclusive in this perceived ability to hold their own, with the former Irish head of state Brian Cowen also receiving the same accolade. “The Irish government is punching above its weight in crucial areas,” Obama told him.
Finally, the South East Asian nation of the Philippines apparently fits the cliché as well, with President Macapagal- Arroyo told on a 2009 visit to the White House that, “Although the Philippines aren’t among the world’s biggest nations, the country punches above its weight on the international scene.”