The Chalaque Has Landed: O'Bama Goes to Ireland

Uri Friedman
The Chalaque Has Landed: O'Bama Goes to Ireland

President Obama's been cracking a lot of jokes since he arrived in Ireland today to kick off a European tour. When he received a hurling stick as a gift, he recommended giving misbehaving members of Congress "a little paddle." When he returned to Dublin after visiting the village of Moneygall, where his great-great-great grandfather once lived, Obama declared, "My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas, and I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way." Our president's funny, right? Or wait--what if he's an insufferable smart aleck? 

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According to The Sunday Times, British authorities might think the latter. Scotland Yard, it turns out, will be referring to Obama by the codename "Chalaque" for security reasons during his visit to the U.K. The Guardian says that chalaque in Punjabi is "a derogatory term for someone crafty, cheeky, cunning and a bit too clever for their own damn good," though a Punjabi speaker tells The Sunday Times that the word is "mildly offensive" but not necessarily rude. In Portuguese, The Guardian adds, the word refers to the Cherokee people. Scotland Yard claims its codewords are randomly generated by a computer, but the Sunday Times isn't convinced by that argument. Even if the name is randomly selected, the paper asks, why stick with a provocative result? Especially when Scotland Yard gives Michelle and Malia Obama cool names like Renaissance and Radiance, respectively.

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The president's visit seems to be going rather smoothly so far. In Moneygall, he downed a Guinness at Ollie Hayes' pub, quipping, "You tell me when it's properly settled, I don't want to mess this up" before his first sip (there's that joking again!). Obama has also met with Irish President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

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There have been some bumps in the road, however. Obama's bomb-proof, bullet-proof limo--nicknamed "the Beast"--got stuck on a ramp as it left the U.S. embassy in Dublin, eliciting cries of surprise from the cheering crowd. Barack and Michelle had to switch vehicles, according to the BBC. Here's the video:

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