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Barack Obama, Speaking Arabic, Media Insanity, Etc.

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Let’s get it out of the way: Barack Obama said a word in Arabic to the Saudi King! How many of these Arabic “words” does he secretly know? What we need is more Ed Henry-type reporter antiheroes to pin this down, before “Judgment Day.”

The supposed “only” Muslim word he said today was “Shukran,” which may or may not translate to the Christian term “thank you.” We are only aware of this secret translation intelligence — the Internet and Google do not speak Arabic, you bet Jesus they don’t — thanks to the deep undercover journalistic sleuthery of the USA TODAY blog The Oval, which has a local source.

Update: 10:17 a.m. ET: “Shukran” means “thank you” in Arabic, Mont Mensoor, a teacher of the language at Washington, D.C.’s Berlitz Center, tells the Oval.

Okay okay we get it, USA TODAY, you are not terrorists, you don’t know the terrorists’ mouth-sounds, you’ve got nothing to do with the terrorists, we won’t blame you for terrorism. You do not have to call an important language scholar for the translation of one basic Arabic pleasantry; it’s cool, you will not be sent to Gitmo.

Obama tries out his Arabic [USA TODAY]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell


Hey there, Wonkeputians! Shypixel here to remind you to remember our Commenting Rules For Radicals, Enjoy!

  • SayItWithWookies

    Huh — if Islam is a religion of peace, why do they all speak terrorist?

  • AfghanVet

    Can people still comments today or did everyone get thrown off? Shukran…I’m here all night…try the lamb.

  • Hooray For Anything

    We should take bets as to see which WingNut pundit/blowhard gets the outrage ball rolling on this. Hannity? Malkin? David Gergen?

  • CockedAle

    1 Arabic word? Meh. Palin says she knows 5 or 6 Arabic numerals. She can see them from Alaska!

  • Come here a minute

    Everyone knows that only gays can translate Arabic, so USA TODAY is hereby OUTED as a gay socialist rag.

  • queeraselvis v 2.0

    I can already hear Rush, Sean, and Glenn baying to the moon about “Shukran” being an al Qaeda code word for GENTLEMEN START YER BOMZ.

  • Crab1

    Jesus spoke English. The bible is in English. Why is NOBAMA’s telepromter speak Islamosatinist?

  • BillyClubb

    Yes but “thank-you” for what!!!1! What did Barry the crypto-Islamist get us in to?!

  • tunamelt

    This is amazing. I took three semesters of Arabic in college. Does that make me a terrorist? I can make the mouth sounds and write the little “words.”

    Which go RIGHT TO LEFT. That’s terrorist for you.

  • Lazy Media


  • NoWireHangers

    QUICKLY–He must gargle Holy Water or God shall smite him.

  • Monsieur Grumpe

    I thought “Shukran” meant “Kill whitey” ?

  • Delicious

    Salaam Alaikum, muthafuckas!

  • tunamelt

    جيم نويل هو إرهابي.

  • tunamelt

    الإجهاض بالنسبة للجميع.

  • Mr Blifil

    I think we have our new substitute for “Win!”

    FTS! (For the Shukran!)

  • NoWireHangers

    [re=331204]tunamelt[/re]: WITCH!

  • tunamelt

    I can’t seem to get it to go right to left on here, though.

  • Jim Newell

    [re=331204]tunamelt[/re]: I’M CALLING THE CIA

  • you cannot be serious

    EEK! A polyglot!

  • Buffalodavid

    Reminds me of the time right after 9/11 (Google it) that Bush talked about “the one who named the stars”, and someone pointed out that 99% of the stars have Arabic names.

  • orange


  • Noodle Salad

    Well, “gracias” and “mas cervesa” was pretty much the only Messican that W knew, and the media called him fluent. Since we all know they don’t have dos equis in Saudi, the question now is WHY DID NOBAMA HIDE HIS MUSLIN FLUENCY?

  • Larry Fine

    I hope our President didn’t shake hands with any of those Arabs, because after defecation, they wipe their asses with their hands – not with toilet paper.

  • Min



  • AfghanVet

    [re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: Here comes the hammer…I am not seeing a very good attempt at being funny.

  • NoWireHangers

    [re=331213]Jim Newell[/re]: You realize that you too are complicit now that you have typed Muslin words on this blog. We must bless the pages or report you, Newell. WHO HAS HOLY WATER?


  • BillyClubb

    [re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: The left hand is used for these things, that’s why you never touch a middle easterner with the “unclean” hand — or so I heard…

  • SlipperyDick

    Obama was just sending the Nutinista Liberation Front their secret signal to attack.

  • Holy Cow!!

    If English was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for the President.

  • orange

    لا كنت تتمنى ان تكون هذه 20 ثانية حياتك العودة

  • Country Club Jihadi

    He said Shukran for the big ass rope chain they gave him when he got off the plane. Then he grabbed his mic like he was on Soul Train.

  • One Yield Regular

    This reminds me of the great scandals that followed Ben Franklin’s saying “Bonjour” to Jacques-Donatien Le Rey de Chaumont, Richard Nixon’s mumbling “Ni hao” to Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and George W. Bush’s asking the Queen Mum, “Where’s the loo at?”

  • magic titty

    Shukran is the Muslin word for La Raza.

  • Servo

    “You’re obviously not retarded like Tex.”

  • Canmon (the Inadequate)

    Maybe that’s why Obama hasn’t stopped discharging those gay army translators. He doesn’t need them.

  • Joehoya

    But was he bowing when he said it or lying prostrate on the floor?

  • gurukalehuru

    Obama Akbar!

  • Bruno

    He also knows the word sharmoot (bitch)

  • Mahousu

    As you may have heard, W. also said “shukran,” whereupon someone threw a shoe at him. [This is actually true.]

    Turns out, in the Iraqi dialect, “shukran” means “your mother sucks donkey dicks.” Oops!

  • rereridiculous

    [re=331193]Crab1[/re]: The bible is in ‘Merican English. Jesus wasn’t no Britfag.

  • bitchincamaro

    Wake me up when you’ve got pix of BO eating goat parts with his fingers.

  • TGY

    [re=331219]orange[/re]: Shukran jive?

  • CockedAle

    Yes we shukran.

  • smashtheduck

    Can’t blame USA Today for a little fact checking after that unfortunate Chinese symbol tatt turned out to mean “ButtSecks Forever” instead of “Fear This”. Although shockingly, even “Fear This” is no longer considered the panty-dropper USA Today thought it would be.

  • TGY

    [re=331184]Hooray For Anything[/re]: You left out el Rushbo, Newt, and young Billy Kristol.

  • AxmxZ

    According to Dan Brown, that language is called “Islamic.”

  • american mutt

    Reading those USA Today comments makes me wonder about the future negative, historical, reflections of Barack Obama –

    “BooSuck Omoron: Muslim teleprompter teleprompter – How the dumbest man on earth is muslim and fucks teleprompters and I’m smrter than him!!11!” written by Tad Kleetus Witherton Jr.

  • doxastic

    Well, now that our president isn’t embarrassing us internationally, SOMEONE’S got to have the cojones to do the job. I smell Tapper courting Drudge pageviews….

  • thejesusandmarycheney

    Satanic runes everywhere! Newell, DO SOMETHING

  • magic titty

    Still better than when GWB uttered ‘Haile Selassie Salaami Lakum’ when he first met the Saudi king…

  • Scarab

    As an arab, I disagree with the President using this word.
    Now every jag-off customer at a falafel stand is going to mispronounce it after he gets his pita. Just like those dorks who throw an awkward ‘aree-gaato’ at the sushi chef.

  • AxmxZ

    Reminds me of when Obama managed to enunciate “Spasibo” after meeting with Medvedev, and all the Russians were like, “Well, aren’t you a poly-wollyglot – and yet your state department can’t get a simple computer term like ‘reload’ correct.”

  • doxastic

    [re=331272]magic titty[/re]: That may be the first Haile Selassie joke I’ve ever seen. Well done M. Titty.

  • June Cleaver 2.0

    [re=331206]tunamelt[/re]: Oh how sexy! I didn’t know you were into that!

  • GreyPanter

    [re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: They use their left hands. Hopey is safe.

  • prophet1195

    It sounded like, “Get your sh*t together you m*ther f*ckin’ arab sh*ts before I testify and nookify yer asses”, to me.

  • vitamins taken helmet on

    from Wikipedia:

    “…educated Arabic speakers of sharply different dialects may resort to the use of English or French to communicate, since knowledge of foreign languages is a key part of education in most of the Arab world.”

    Just imagine if educated Americans had knowledge of foreign languages. We would be as smart as the terrorists!

  • GreyPanter

    What was the rest of the sentence in which the word “Shukran” was used? “Shukran, for not sending another dozen Saudis over to ram an airplane into a big building?”?

  • Hooray For Anything

    [re=331266]american mutt[/re]: Speaking of which, did he just say shukran because it was on the teleprompter or did he not need it because of all that training in Jihad that he did at the madrassa he went to?

  • Fox n Fiends

    I, for one, am happy to see our President greeting our OIL OVERLORDS in their native tongue. Drill Baby Drill!!!!

  • CockedAle

    [re=331221]Larry Fine[/re]: R U a cave dweller? Our Barry does not shake hands. He’s Vulcan!

  • 51dimes

    He could appease the wingnuts, look at the Saudi king and say “Dirka dirka!”. Then he’ll turn to the camera and give a thumbs up. STARBURSTS.

  • paintitblack

    Nah, what Barry Sotero really said: shukranI bow to you, Oil Overlords?

  • Homme

    I’m cool with being a Muslim nation, but only if we’re like Kuwait, where we all get Corvettes and all dress like Will Smith in the “Miami” video.

  • Nigerian Business Executive

    “Shukran” doesn’t mean “thank you”. It means “grey poupon mustard”, you fascist socialists.

  • The Station Manager

    How dare he show even a modicum of decency to these t’rrrists! He should have just made out with him and nanced around holding hands like our last real p’rznit.

  • ZombieRichardFeynman

    [re=331280]doxastic[/re]: The TV version of MASH had an Ethiopian in one of their plotlines. I don’t remember a thing about the episode other than Hawkeye saying “That’s Haile Selassie of you!”

  • nestor

    [re=331206]tunamelt[/re]: [re=331231]orange[/re]: @#$%#@(:[]\,].[/%^$5(%#*%*^$(!#(%#@*
    See! I can do it too!

  • american mutt

    [re=331293]Hooray For Anything[/re]: Teleprompterz is actually a course in the madrassas.

  • problemwithcaring

    It was just a mistake. He was trying to say “reset” in Russian.

  • Jukesgrrl

    That whole arrival ceremony was a colossal fail. I kept waiting for Michelle to get off the plane with bare arms. THAT would have been a party. But, no, Hopey had to do the Muslin thing and leave her at home.

  • Timmy’sinthewell

    That Barry is such a cunning linguist. I least that’s how I imagine it.

  • Rush

    Ich ein bin Shukran

  • Lascauxcaveman

    [re=331364]nestor[/re]: You can do it, but not very well. That’s supposed to be ‘^’ before ‘$’ except after ‘%.’


  • S.Luggo

    “Chaka Khan” is islamo for Sotomayor.

  • President Beeblebrox


  • ALIVE!

    Actually, “Shukran” is how you say “I’d like Dijon mustard with that” in Arabic.

  • paintitblack

    [re=331439]ALIVE![/re]: WIN! Ya made me laugh!

  • RabidHamster

    [re=331197]tunamelt[/re]: Not a terroris, just a bit [re=331191]gay[/re].

  • J-Man

    At least it’s an improvement over GWB:
    Saudi King: “As salaam alaikum, Mr. President.”
    Bush: “And a big ShamWow to you too, buddy.”

  • naveed

    باراك أوباما ، ويتحدث العربية ، والجنون وسائل الإعلام ، إلخ.

  • Wolfard

    I just read about this on a blog in DC