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Brits Not Happy With Obama’s Treatment Of Brown

And I have to wonder, given some of the comments, whether this isn’t an indication of his overall disinterest in foreign affairs.

Anyway, a raft of British writers are not happy with Obama’s treatment of them or of British PM Gordon Brown.  Some samples:

Tim Shipman, Telegraph:

A Washington Post colleague just called me and said that the White House press corps cannot think of a single previous occasion when a British Prime Minister was treated in this way.

British Embassy staff, irritated themselves, had to twist Robert Gibbs’ arm to get even two questions per side in a quick oval office doorstep.

Alex Massie, Spectator:

Indeed, for a President who wants to “renew” America’s relationship with the rest of the world, Obama is strikingly reluctant to actually, you know, speak to the rest of the world.

Benedict Brogan, Mail:

If Downing Street was expecting the kind of love-in that marked the first Blair-Clinton gala at the White House or the Blair-Bush Colgate and video moment at Camp David, this new administration has proved it wrong. There never was going to be a press conference, despite what No10 said. And there is no couple time planned. No Stevie Wonder, no Meet the Parents, no burgers.

Daniel Hannon, Telegraph, combines a couple of shots:

Incidentally, did you notice that the president silkily downgraded us? Britain, he said, was “one of our closest and strongest allies”. Well, fair enough. US Presidents have to be sparing with their superlatives lest they irk the Canadians or the Israelis or some other favoured people. Still, Dubya never had any problem with describing the United Kingdom as “our closest friend and strongest ally,” adding, on the day Baghdad fell: “America has no finer ally than Great Britain”.

Some will see Obama’s vocabulary as a calculated snub. The forty-fourth president, they will say, has never been keen on Britain. He’s resentful about the way our colonial officers treated his Kenyan grandfather. He was dismissive of us in his autobiography. But I think there is a simpler explanation: he just doesn’t think much of our Prime Minister. Neither do we, Mr President; neither do we.

One of the first things Obama did on taking office was send a Winston Churchill bust, given by the British to President Bush, back to the British. And now this bit of embarrassment.

I’m sure this will be remembered when the Obama administration asks the Brits, our most solid ally and contributor of troops in Afghanistan, to up their commitment.

Iain Martin of the Telegraph sums that sentiment up best:

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.

When it comes to men, munitions and commitment you’ll soon find out why it pays to at least treat the Brits with some manners.

Ceremony and press availability are expected parts of these sorts of events. And precedent is very important as well. Any deviation which makes the event less than the last one is seen as a diplomatic snub. Diplomatic snubs are not well received and payback is indeed always calculated.

Much of what you’ll read is press hacks whining about not getting the expected and anticipated access. But they do have a point as Tim Shipman describes. True or not, these are now the leading meme’s emerging in the wake of yesterday’s decidedly fumbled diplomatic event:

Why does this matter? Three reasons:

– Major British hack involvement in a full blown press conference has always been regarded as useful by the White House press corps. We ask different questions from them, usually more aggressively and get answers they could not. There were several spiky and revealing moments between President Bush and the BBC political editor Nick Robinson. It is bizarre that Mr Obama is less willing to answer questions than Mr Bush. It reflects very poorly on his tendency towards control freakery, which has been in evidence since his campaign.

– It’s discourteous to Mr Brown, who was desperate for his big moment with the podiums. On his two set piece trips to see Bush there were proper pressers at Camp David and then in the Rose Garden. Why gratify him with the first European trip and then snub his big PR moment? There will be no private relaxation time for Mr Brown with Mr Obama, a given on previous prime ministerial trips. I know he’s busy but it shows that he is not really that interested, as my sources were telling me last week.

– Obama has been running scared of the international media and the British press in particular since the start of his campaign. He didn’t give a single interview to a British outlet even when he was in the UK. This is very unusual, particularly from a man who so desperately wants to be loved on the world stage. We know we’re not special, given Obama’s general contempt for beat reporters (as opposed to his schmoozing with editors), but it is still peculiar.

We’ll see how it goes the next time Obama shows up in the UK or asks for British cooperation and help. Given this little show, however, I’d say Obama’s diplomatic skills need some sharpening. Additionally, the British press is now going to be laying in wait for an opportunity to embarrass Obama. As you can tell, this really PO’d them and he’s not going to be able to avoid them forever. For someone who so masterfully manipulated the domestic press, this is a pretty ham-handed performance. And as we’ve all come to understand, the press will get its revenge.


27 Responses to Brits Not Happy With Obama’s Treatment Of Brown

  • “For someone who so masterfully manipulated the domestic press…”

    More to do with their willingness than his skill.

  • He had to snub the PM…..he had an urgent Conga Line party in the West Wing to attend.

    Honestly, this guy is strictly amatuer hour.  His every speech starts with “I inherited BLAH BLAH BLAH….”


  • McQ For someone who so masterfully manipulated the domestic press, this is a pretty ham-handed performance.

    I beg to differ.  TAO hasn’t “masterfully manipulated” MiniTru.  He hasn’t had to: they have been among his most loyal, vociferous cheerleaders.  To say that he has “manipulated” them is akin to claiming that rock bands “manipulate” their groupies.

    The question is whether any of this will matter.  There still seems to be a huge segment of the population, at home and abroad, who are blindly determined to love and adore and worship TAO no matter what he does.  So he treated the PM with less than the courtesy shown by his bumbling predecessor, the odious cowboy Bush.  So what?  TAO is for Hope and Change!  He’s going to reach out to the world and repair our relations with everybody!  People will love America again!

    It MAY be that this is will be a big step toward the international media discovering what many of us on the right already suspected: that TAO is a vain, pompous, narcissist, an empty suit who has come to believe the hype about himself but really has no idea what he’s doing.  We shall see.

  • Obama’s Foreign Policy credentials were always questionable during the campaign (translate – “Non-existent”).  That was supposedly why Biden was selected as his VP – to give him some Foreign Policy cred.  But now Obama is reluctant to allow the gaffe-prone Biden anywhere near a mike and a foreign dignitary – so he has to carry his own water. It is no wonder that his lack of credentials are showing.  And as McQ points out, the real test is how Obama expects to gain any sort of concessions from allies such as Britain with this kind of showing.  Further, it make you wonder – if he is so inept at handling our allies, how does he expect to handle enemies like Iran and North Korea?

    God help us!

    • Yeah, I had the same thoughts after Porkulus was passed: if TAO couldn’t get more than three (alleged) Republicans to go along with him on spending lots of money, how in the hell is he going to get bad actors like Kim Jong-Poofy Hair or Dobby Putin or Ahmamadman to play ball???

      Or perhaps we’re already seeing an example of his strategy: pay ’em off!  What is he promising the Palis?  $800 billions to buy more rockets to shoot at more Israelis?  Yes, yes, I know: the money is supposed to be for “humanitarian aid”.  The Palis are to be trusted to but nothing by food and clothing and medical supplies with our largesse… just like the banks were to be trusted to do nothing but fund mortgages and credit with the TARP funds that Bush, TAO, and the Congress have been throwing at them.  Riiiiiight…..

      Oh, and for some of our regular lefty commenters who have regularly vomitted up the garbage about the war in Iraq “strengthening Iran”, just who will get most of that money?  Who sponsors Hamas?  Who sells them most of their weapons?

      I’ll give you some hints:

      1.  Country name starts with I-R-A and ends with N

      2.  Country is led by a sawed-off maniac who regularly includes in his speeches kindly phrases like “Death to America” and “Israel must be destroyed”

      3.  Country has sponsored terrorism against us and Israel for the past thirty years, starting with invading our embassy and holding staff members hostage for over a year

      So, it may be that this IS how TAO will get Iran to play ball: launder money to them through the Palis.  It’s a win-win-win for Tehran: they get to kill more Israelis by proxy, they even get paid for it, AND there’s really nothing to stop their nuke program.

      Genius.  That’s change we can all believe in.

  • Barack does not share the stage. It makes it too hard to see the teleprompter.

  • Here’s something indicative:  Glenn mentioned this yesterday.

     ‘HEY, WASN’T HE CALLING WASHINGTONIANS SNOW-WIMPS JUST THE OTHER DAY? Barack Obama cancels press conference with Gordon Brown “because of snow”.

    When you remember why Brown came here, it all becomes clear Obama is abouts trying to gloss over the embarrasment of the ‘buy American’ business which was what Brown was here to deal with. He was here to remind Obama his call for protectionism isn’t very popular in the UK and elsewhere. I cannot imagine why Obama would cancel under those conditions, can you?

  • Inexperience, thy name is Obama.

  • Tell ya, he’s got this weird obession with taking on commentators like Rush, Hannity and now Jim Cramer.

    This guy is headed for a major implosion the rate he’s going. He’ll be dictating enemies lists before long

  • To be fair to Obama, and that’s not one of my strong points, Brown is a DEAD MAN WALKING….what’s the point of propping up Brown, when the odious squish, Cameron is going to be the next PM? Obama can risk offending the NEXT PM of the UK by making a big deal out of Brown, or offend the outgoing PM…to me there’s no choice. I slight Brown, and fete Cameron, when he’s the next PM.

    • Maybe.

      But he’s made so many other mistakes that it seems unlikely that this was a calculated non-mistake.

  • Wow, this guy is more clumsy in his dealings than George Bush.  Now W had the entire media against him and still managed to look better on a bad day than the current occupant of the post.

    Never thought I would be saying this.  🙂
    Hilarious, like watching a real life Benny Hill

  • Foreign leaders are usually not treated differently at the White House, as far as basic extensions of state courtesy goes, because of their political status back home.

    This somewhat off treatment of Brown — off enough so that everyone noticed it — might be evidence of contempt for the Presidency itself more than evidence of contempt for Brown or the UK.

    But it could also be any one of many things, or a combo thereof: misdirection to avoid too close an association with a fellow Soros man, catering to a distaste for the old alliance on the Left or perhaps a more obscure distaste in the “black theology” community (not that I’ve heard of that), an intention to have nothing at all to do with the Brits in any case, or maybe Obama is just a slob. I’d actually prefer not to read the tea leaves because that seems to be Obama’s M.O. on a lot of matters: getting people to read the tea leaves or watching his hands while he’s telling you five more contradictory things.

    When we finally get a real portrait of Obama other than the one he has painted of himself, with the media generously doing PR for him off of it, there’s either going to be nothing there at all, as in a very empty suit, or a lot of things that we would prefer that a President not have in his background. We already know about the church, the terrorist friends, the drugs, and the Chicago methods. Voters disregarded that and bought into the hypnotic suggestion, or maybe the other way around. But now the safe is falling from the top of the building and it’s still about ten stories up. It’s going to hit the sidewalk soon enough.

  • I don’t get what Obama is up to either. Presumably the meeting was based on an arrangement his staff set up, so what’s changed that Obama won’t follow through? Snow can’t be reason.

    Perhaps as Martin says,  Obama is just a slob, or as I would put it, a narcissist, who can’t bothered to keep his commitments if he doesn’t feel like it. That’s for little people.  Here’s the DSM on Narcisstic Personalit Disorder:

    DSM criteria
    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

    has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    believes that he or she is “special” and unique
    requires excessive admiration
    has a sense of entitlement
    is interpersonally exploitative
    lacks empathy
    is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
    shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    Bingo! I think we have a winner.

  • If it weren’t for the fact that Obama has acted this way during and since the campaign, one might be suspect that we were dealing with a President “Dave” by way he acts and is protected by his staff.

  • One of the first things Obama did on taking office was send a Winston Churchill bust, given by the British to President Bush, back to the British

    What? Doesn’t Obama understand that at best he would have never existed if it wasn’t for Winston Churchill and he has the nerve to do that?

  • I think the best line came from Massie

    Obama is not on the campaign trail any longer but his press strategy does not seem to have switched to governing mode yet.

    His governing strategy hasn’t switched to governing mode yet, either.

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  • hey! if you want a love-in, have al-jazeera conduct the interviews.

  • Hey did you check this article.

    Ms Brown gives really nice expensive gifts to Obama’s daughters and Michelle give a chessy $15 palstic playset out of the whitehouse gift shop.

    Class, real class.

  • GW may have had that occasional deer in the headlight look but I’d sure feel relieved if he took back control of the helm from Junior.

  • How ironic it was Obama who touted that he would create better international relations , however he has insulted America’s strongest ally. Checkout this Obama website. I thought it was interesting