It would appear that Obama’s fumbling isn’t limited to the financial arena. Given that everyone was telling me that the world would just love America again once Obama was in office, I’d say his performance in that regard isn’t meeting their expectations. Particularly with the British, now:
But Obama’s merely warmish words (one of our closest allies, said with little sincerity or passion) left a bitter taste with this Atlanticist. Especially after his team had made Number 10 beg for a mini press conference and then not even offered the PM lunch.
We get the point, sunshine: we’re just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends. Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. The French will be able to offer you first rate support from their catering corps but beyond that you’ll be on your own.
The Brits are, frankly, among the longest, most loyal friends and allies America has. The visit by PM Gordon Brown was one of the most badly bungled visits by a foreign leader I’ve seen in my lifetime and it’s apparently not gone unnoticed across the pond, either. In every major conflict in the last 25 years, the British have been there with us and they’ve actually brought real, live fighting men with weapons and transports of their own. They are one of the few countries capable of working with us at our level in the air. Our ground forces regard theirs as professional and capable warriors and, considering the capabilities of our troops, that’s saying something.
For a man who was busting the chops of DC residents’ “flintiness” in the face of bad weather not even a month ago, I would have expected Obama to be able to pull off whatever events he’d planned regardless of the snowfall we had back on Monday. Would it have been too much to ask to do the press conference with full honors inside? Would it not have been a good move to schedule a meal with the PM? Just to show we appreciate them?
Bad form, Mr. President. Bad form, indeed. And this time, it’s going to be remembered.
Update: And then there’s this:
Brown, the first European leader to visit Obama since his Jan. 20 inauguration, was presented with a “special collector’s box” of DVDs during his two-day visit to Washington.
Downing Street, which reportedly tried to keep the present a secret, declined to say what movies were included in the set.
“One reason for the secrecy might be that the gift seems markedly less generous and thoughtful than the presents taken to Washington by the Prime Minister,” London’s Evening Standard newspaper reported.
The Daily Mail, however, reported the movie set included ET, Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz and was produced by the American Film Institute on “special request” from the White House.
Brown, who is not known to be a movie buff, gave the president and his children several uniquely historical gifts.
So, let’s compare the amount of effort and thought that went into this. Obama basically outsourced the whole thing to Hollywood and gave what amounts to a basket from Netflix to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Gordon, on the other hand, gave Obama a wooden pen holder that was made from the timbers of the HMS Gannet, a British naval vessel that engaged in anti-slavery operations off the coast of Africa. He also presented the President with a framed copy of the commissioning papers for the HMS Resolute, a British ship that was caught in the arctic ice and abandoned in 1853. In 1855 an American whaler found Resolute, still stuck in the ice. The crew of the whaler, the George Henry, freed Resolute from the ice and sailed her to New London, CT. After Britain waived her claims to the ship, Congress bought her, had her refitted, and sailed her back to England. She was presented to Queen Victoria as a token of peace. Her story is one of the more moving tales of Anglo-American friendship, a point that I’m sure was hoped not to be lost on our President.
For the President’s daughters, the PM brought oufits from one of Britain’s clothing chains and 6 childrens’ books by British authors. The books have yet to be published in the US and are, therefore, unavailable in US bookstores.
Our First Lady presented the PM’s 2 boys with toy helicopters, miniatures of the President’s Marine One.
In other words, the British took the time to find the sizes of the President’s 2 girls and presented them with gifts of British fashion and of the work of British authors that they will not be able to find anywhere else in the US. Our elected leader and his family presented the PM’s boys with toys that can be bought in any decent DC gift shop.
Embarrassing. It’s just embarrassing.