Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Team Obama’s UK Press Kit’s A Laugh/Groan

The Daily Telegraph’s US editor Tony Harnden begins - - -

So here's what the White House is telling American reporters - and by extension the American people - about Britain.

It's laid out in an inch-thick "press kit", with the Seal of the President of the United States emblazoned on the cover, handed out to each of us on board the White House press charter en route from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington to Stansted.

The United Kingdom, we are told, is "slightly smaller than Oregon".

As for the the British climate, it is "generally mild and temperate" and "subject to frequent changes but few extremes of temperature".

A "group of islands close to continental Europe", Britain has been "subject to many invasions and migrations".

We're taken through the Roman invasion ("brought more active contacts with the rest of Europe"), the Norman invasion (led to "active involvement in European affairs...for several hundred years") and various travails with the Welsh, Scots and Irish before the British empire reached its zenith in Victorian times.

Then it all started to go wrong. "The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom's preeminent international position of the previous century".

Those fretting about the demise of the term "special relationship" might not be reassured by this briefing book.

There's talk of a "strong bilateral relationship", of the UK being "one of the United States' closest allies" and of "close coordination" and "bilateral cooperation" between two countries who "continually consult on foreign policy". Everything except "special".

After the country sections, we're introduced to the personalities, with information mainly culled from their websites.

Queen Elizabeth "enrolled as a girl Guide when she was eleven, and later became a Sea Ranger", we are informed. During the war she "put on pantomimes with the children of members of staff for the enjoyment of her family and employees of the Royal Household".

Folks, you can read, laugh and groan at the rest of Harnden’s column here.

Among the comments, my favorite is from a reader who IDs as a British ex-pat living in America:

A fact sheet probably written by a couple of goggling twits in a back room of the WH who have never traveled further than Tijuana for the benefit of a press corps that has almost certainly traveled extensively in the course of their work. Priceless.'s a thought. Maybe it was originally written for Obama: "Your Majesty, I understand you were a Girl Guide..."


f1guyus said...

This Press Guide is absolutely typical of what passes for thoughtful reasoning at the heart of the Democratic party these day. The most dangerous people are the dumb ones who think they're smart.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, those who wrote this guide were either asleep in their western civ classes or their world history classes or decided to "cut class" on the days where British history was taught. My students could have done a much better job preparing the press kit. I shudder to think what the press kits for other countries contain.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, your are right John. I did groan first, then I had to laugh at the stupidity of it, it is unbelievable.

Scott S.