If you haven’t heard about the botched job team Obama did with Prime Minister Brown’s visit to the U.S., don’t worry I didn’t either. It seems this is a little faux pas that the US media doesn’t seem intent to report.
According to reports in the British Press Obama was extremely rude to the British Prime Minister.
Number 10 may be content that they just about got away with the visit to the Oval Office yesterday, as Andrew Porter reports from Washington.
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.
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.
Well it now seems the excuse the Obama administration is giving the British Press is that they are “too tired” to have given Gordon Brown a proper reception.
There’s More after the jump
But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama’s inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”.
A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. “I think it’s right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn’t quite understand the British concerns and didn’t get what that was all about.”
This is concerning. The administration is “too tired” and is surprised at the “sheer volume of business” that crosses his desk. What exactly did the President think he ran for? the Illinois State Senate again. You’ve got to show up for this job. Perhaps we should have seen the warning signs of this during the campaign and before. Obama’s not voting in the Illinois Senate, his frequent “basketball breaks” during the campaign, and his frankly lack of day to day campaigning in the waining days of the fall campaign, may have been a precursor to the type of schedule he keeps.
Furthermore, the most important job for a President especially in the middle of a multi-generational war on Islamic terrorism is foreign policy. That oath that John Roberts flubbed during the inauguration, says nothing about domestic policy. It says that the President’s job is to protect the “Constitution of the United States from all enemies”, not to enact the whole host of domestic problems he is doing. If we can’t trust the President to do his most important job, how can we trust him to do any part of it.