Saturday, March 7, 2009

Does Obama dislike the British?

That could be the interpretation of recent events during British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to the US. After President Obama miffed PM Brown by canceling a scheduled news conference on his arrival, the British press were outraged.
But on this side of the Atlantic the whole business looked pretty demeaning. The morning papers and TV last night featured plenty of comment focused on the White House's very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude treatment of a British PM. Squeezing in a meeting, denying him a full press conference with flags etc. The British press corps, left outside for an hour in the cold, can take it and their privations are of limited concern to the public.

Obama called a hastily arranged mini press conference in the White House. Then, he couldn't find any passionate words for our closest ally. Perhaps his teleprompter was not available.
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. (here)

Next, there was "gift gaffe." Gift exchanges are very important during state visits. They carry a lot of symbolism. PM Brown brought three valuable and thoughtful gifts to President Obama.
For his part, PM Brown gave two symbolic gifts and one that expressed national pride. Brown came bearing a pen holder carved from the timbers of the sister ship of that which gave the wood to create the famous "Resolute Desk," the desk that has been in America's charge since 1880. He also gave Obama the framed commission for that famous ship, the HMS Resolute. His third gift was a seven-volume biography of one of England's greatest leaders, Winston Churchill.

President Obama sent a staffer to Walmart or somewhere for a 25 DVD set. He actually gave a foreign head of state a few cheap DVD's.
First Brown wasn't granted a press conference with flags, then one was hastily arranged in the Oval office after the Brits had to beg. Obama looked like he would rather have been anywhere else than welcoming the British leader to his office and topped it all with his choice of present (*) for the PM. A box of 25 DVD's including ET, the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars? Oh, give me strength. We do have television and DVD stores on this side of the Atlantic. Even Gordon Brown will have seen those films too often already.

Of course, Michelle Obama made up for it by sending someone to the White House gift shop for some cheap toys for the kids.
This was coupled with Michelle Obama's casual choice of gifts for the Brown sons - matching models of the helicopter which ferry her husband around. While Sarah Brown had spent time choosing gifts for the Obama girls, Michelle had clearly sent an aide to the White House gift shop at the last moment. (here)

This is no way to treat our closest ally and best friend in the world. Obama is set to visit the Queen. I would suggest he continue this gift giving tradition by pick up some plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments for Buckingham Palace as a gift.


Anonymous said...

Plastic lawn flamingoes... too funny! And frankly, too sad. Former Pres. Bush is starting to look pretty dang good about now. He lavished attention and good ol' American hospitality on PM Blair and his wife during their first meeting here. As it should be expected of the leader of the greatest nation in the world. Obama is a self-absorbed frat-boy who just flipped off our greatest ally with his arrogant snubbing. And First Lady Michelle is not much better.

For another perspective on Obama's gaffe with England: Snub the Brits - Embarrassing “Change” We Can Count on in Obama’s White House

Mike's America said...

Yeah, that last sentence was great.

Some say Obama's dislike of the British goes back to the time when Britain put down the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya and had Obama's grandfather imprisoned.

Of course Obama still has relatives in Kenya, some of which are also liked to atrocities similar to those committed during the Mau Mau uprising.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing historical info there, Mike's America. Again, I've learned something new on this blog. Thanks for the clarification to England's being on Obama's "loath list."

Anonymous said...

Hah! that is awful. I wonder what prompted all of it? Something behind the scenes we didn't see? Did someone just drop the ball? Obama certainly doesn't seem like he would have anything against the British, although Mike's theory is interesting.

There was an even worse gift gaffe by Hillary in Russia. She brought them a computer reset button, which they had translated to Russian, saying it represented how Obama wanted to change relations between the two countries. From Reuters: "They joked about the Russian misspelling of "reset" on the button before sitting down at an oval table with aides. "We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" Clinton asked. "You got it wrong," said Lavrov, telling her "Peregruzka" meant "overcharge."

Anonymous said...

LOL - I saw the gosh-durned-embarrassing news footage about Hillary's "reset/overcharge" button gaffe. I'm sure that when she returns from her trip, a few heads will roll. To make matters worse, Hillary announced just prior to the translation mistake being made known that they had spent a great deal of time researching the correct Russian word to use on it.

Oops... kerplunk, as another ball is dropped with our foreign relations.