Wednesday, March 04, 2009

PM Brown's Visit: A Few Brit Press Looks

Here's a 1, 2, 3 post with:

1 - - From The Guardian snips and links to press coverage of Britain's PM Brown's visit to Washington;

2 - - The full text of Daily Telegraph US editor Toby Harnden's take on the visit - Harnden's upset at the way President Obama's treating Brown and, by extension, dissing Britain;

3 - - A few of my comments.

1 - - From The Guardian's Politics blog - - -

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post says yesterday's meeting between Barack ObamaGordon Brown was a "no Colgate moment". and

Michael Scherer at Time magazine's Swampland blog thinks the British media's obsession with the strength of the special relationship is "pathetic" and evidence of the "insecurity of a faded empire".

And Amy Sullivan at Swampland recalls that Brown was beaten in the race to an audience with the new president by Tony Blair.

Jeff Zeleny and David E Sanger in the New York Times point out that Obama did not repeat Brown's "global New Deal" phrase, while BlueStateLiberal at the Daily Kos says Democrats should oppose Brown's plan for a "global New Deal" because it would lead to foreigners having power over US economic decision-making.

Toby Harnden, the Daily Telegraph's US editor, says on his blog that yesterday felt like a new era in transatlantic relations and that he started to feel a bit sorry for Gordon Brown.

2 - - Harnden's DT post - - -

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.

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.

3 - - My Comments:

I wouldn't go as far as Harnden although I've already heard from some Brit friends many in the UK see Obama as having dissed Brown.

That's troubling for the reasons Harnden mentions. It's also somewhat surprising, too, since Brown is very unpopular in Britain and Obama has until recently drawn mostly raves from the UK press and most Brits I talk to.

A number of you have asked I comment on President Obama's decision some weeks back to remove the Epstein bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval office where President Bush had placed it after Britian loaned it to the US immediately following September 11. The British made clear they were willing to extend the loan but Obama decided to return the bust to them.

I held off commenting for a number of reasons including a hope that during PM Brown's current visit there'd be some resolution of the matter other than where things stand now with something like: "Here, Britain. Take back your Churchill bust. We don't want it."

I'll post on the matter this weekend.


Anonymous said...

WHile Harnden is a bit caustic in his remarks - the gist is spot on. The British have been our most loyal ally. One does not "diss" one's friends. If Obama thinks that we can rely on the French (or the Germans) for much of anything, then he is more foreign policy challenged than I thought. What does the US gain by giving the British the cold sshoulder treatment? Who is he trying to impress? I doubt that it meant anything to either the Chinese or for that matter the Russians. Does he expect that Hamas will care? (Although he is trying to buy their friendship with the aid to Gaza - a topic for another day).
I am really at a loss as to what diplomatic game is being played.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Obummer would feel if he was treated in the same disrespectful manner when he visits England? What would the Lamestream Media have to say? Of course, what can one expect from a thug Chicago "community organizer" / politician? How embarassing for America, how naive for a President. Steve in New Mexico

Anonymous said...

I just don't get it - Barak Delano Lincoln snubs our staunchest ally and friend but wants to sit down to tea with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela? I am scratching a bald spot in my head.

Anonymous said...

And now the Brits have lost their minds. Knighting Teddy Kennedy? What the hell kind of a sick joke is THAT??
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Hawk - I guess THAT will teach us to snub the Brits!!