President Obama has had a penchant for offending our friends and cozying up to our enemies, so we should all be glad that he is heading to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he will attend the funeral ceremonies of King Abdullah.

This is the right thing to do, Saudi Arabia being a longtime U.S. ally and all. I only hope the president doesn’t chew gum or bow to anybody. The atmosphere in the Kingdom probably won’t be conducive to the president’s taking a selfie. So we don’t have to sweat that. Meanwhile, it is meet and right that the U.S. is sending a delegation that includes the current and two former secretaries of state.

Unfortunately, our official response to the death of King Abdullah doesn't stop with a correct (we hope) formal visit. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey, the Obama Administration’s top military man, is sponsoring a bizarre essay contest in honor of the late despot. In doing this, the Obama administration gets it precisely wrong.

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary writes:   

The U.S.-Saudi alliance is one based on common interests, not values. Like the president’s choice to attend the king’s funeral after snubbing the Paris unity rally after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the decision by the Pentagon to sponsor an essay contest on Arab and Muslim issues in honor of the king’s memory is a spectacular example of how tone deaf Obama’s Washington is to the nature of the underlying threat to peace in the Middle East.

The Department of Defense website explains:

“This is an important opportunity to honor the memory of the king, while also fostering scholarly research on the Arab-Muslim world, and I can think of no better home for such an initiative than NDU,” Dempsey said in a statement announcing the competition.

The competition will focus on issues related to the Arab-Muslim world and is designed to encourage strategic thinking and meaningful research on a crucial part of the world. The program will be in place at National Defense University for the next academic year, officials said.

King Abdullah was an American ally who wanted our help in dealing with the threat posed to his region by Iran. He was appalled at the suddenness with which the Obama administration dropped former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, another U.S. ally. The king wanted to safeguard his country against ISIS. He was also a despot whose backward and brutal regime beheads people. Saudi Arabia’s form of Islam is Wahhabi, an especially intolerant form of Sunni Islam. So our relationship was built more on shared national interest than on what a swell guy King Abdullah was.

There is no need to honor King Abdullah as a great human being but only to pay respects to him as an ally of the United States. The notion of national interest is something President Obama appears never to have understood, however. For President Obama, it’s all about personality—namely his personality.

“The day I am inaugurated Muslim hostility will cease,” he once said. Oh, well. Just for the record, it has been reported that one Muslim–the late King Abdullah–"couldn't stand" President Obama.

In the essay contest, the administration demonstrates once again that it believes that personality rather than national interest is at play. I am willing to bet that King Abdullah wouldn’t be at all flattered by the essay contest conducted by infidels but would prefer instead a U.S. president wise enough to see Iran's threat to the region.

Meanwhile, the essay contest has provoked some delicious responses in twitter world, which seems to have a better grasp of reality than President Obama world.

I especially like one colorful headline on a report about the contest: “King Fond of Beheadings Honored with DOD Essay Competition.”