Obama to Great Britain: I’m Just Not That Into You

Obama’s bestest friend to the whole wide world approach doesn’t seem to include Great Britain; a Telegraph article reports that Obama representatives say, “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

Stop. Pause. Digest.

I’m sorry, but what? Since when is there “nothing special about Britain” to the government of the United States? Since when do we treat Great Britain’s officials (um, their Prime Minister, in this case) like those of “a minor African state”? Sorry, but Great Britain and the United States (after that pesky little squabble over American independence, anyway) have a long and solid history as close allies, the one defending and supporting the other.

Okay, so I know that Obama is busy, that the country is facing a huge economic crisis, that he’s working on a variety of pressing issues (not the least of which are health and education reform), but he can’t manage to send his aides out for better gifts for the Prime Minister of Great Britain than a DVD collection of American movies and some model helicopters from the White House gift shop? How busy can his aides be? Isn’t that part of their friggin’ job? To think of and then purchase appropriate gifts for visiting dignitaries? I’m sure Gordon Brown didn’t go out and wander the streets in search of the perfect gift for Obama; heck, he didn’t even do the internet search or make the bid on eBay or whatever, but his people managed to purchase “a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade – a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama’s Oval Office desk.” Now that’s a gift befitting the leader of the free world. And here’s your soap on a rope, Mr. Prime Minister. Enjoy!

Not only did Obama and his team drop the ball in the gift giving and tact (diplomacy) departments (what makes you think you’re so special, GB?), but they also failed to hold the expected full-blown press conference and state dinner for the visiting British Prime Minister. What was the price tag on that I wanna be the myth of Lincoln (the reality was a bit too . . . well, real, and kinda well, racist after all) inauguration? And how many parties with Stevie Wonder or Earth, Wind, and Fire as the entertainment have we read about? And he can’t manage a state dinner for Gordon Brown? Heck, I bet Brad Pitt got a better gift than some tired old movie collection and gift shop models of helicopters.

But then Obama probably just needs a cigarette and a nap.
I included the photo of George Clooney with Obama because well, it’s George Clooney! What a cutie. Besides, our president may not be into Great Britain, but no one can say he’s not into Hollywood.

8 thoughts on “Obama to Great Britain: I’m Just Not That Into You

  1. Yeah, not the best I agree, but our newspapers make me laugh in their rather hysterical reactions. Jon Stewart's take was as usual very amusing:http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=220289&title=brown-in-the-usaIronically, Gordon Brown always paints himself as they kind of 'serious politician' that is all about the issues, and not about the diplomatic niceities. I think, given the major issues facing both our countries, I could care less about what gifts Brown was given. We had all this nonsense when Bush gave him that bomber jacket, that he supposedly refused to wear.The same papers bashing Brown for exploiting his visit to the States for political purposes, shrieking like disappointed toddlers on Christmas Day, it just strikes me as odd. As if this country does not already have enough of a reputation for grumpily complaining about being slighted. Churchill's nose was put out of joint a few times by Roosevelt, we get over these things and move on.I think this is just another case of media turning something Brown is not even bothered about, after all he got to grandstand in Congress, not something extended to many visiting dignitaries I understand, into some huge scandal [Giftgate??] and at the same time play to our prevalent anti-Americanism. A sign of the hyperpartisan nature of the blogosphere that some sites have spent days over this issue.I do admit though that it does not seem very professional of the unnamed official to play down the special relationship. Hilary Clinton reaffirmed the importance of the special relationship publicly in a recent meeting with our Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, so someone is not on message here.

  2. Thanks for your super comment, Fabi, I’m always interested in your views. And Jon Stewart is a riot, I love him.While on the one hand, I see your point that this can be seen as trivial in light of the economic crisis, etc. (“Giftgate” made me smile), I do think that it’s indicative of Obama’s “one world” sort of view. His people probably are on point in that comment; at least from what I’ve heard him say (and he talks a lot), he’s not really looking at special relationships but more at everyone’s the same (except us, I’m guessing). You know, one world, blah blah blah. The problem, I think, with that is that it is not one world so much as the sum of its parts (er, countries), and we can’t ignore (much less snub, and let’s face it, that was tacky, I’d give you a better gift if you came to my home) those historical and political ties and agreements (written and tacit) that have helped keep a modicum of peace in much (though certainly not all) of the world. Hillary Clinton knows this, most people know this, and I think are trying to reign him in. We’ll see how it goes, though.It does sound all egalitarian and lovely that the U. S. will treat the U. K. like any other nation, but there are serious problems with that approach. And I do think it was an approach, a glimpse of the Obama White House in action (or in inaction, as it were). And anyone can speak to Congress, really, it’s not a big deal (hell, they have all sorts of random people traipse through there espousing that cause or this, usually to a committee or subcommittee, though, not to the whole body–it’s all part of that government for the people by the people thingy we do over here). Tony Blair, of course, gave a speech to Congress in 2003, as one example: http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/07/17/blair.transcript/). (and of course Margaret Thatcher addressed our Congress; I’ll have to look and see if leaders of other countries do so, it’d be interesting to find out.)

  3. I thought I heard on the news that it was not usual for a visiting foreign leader to speak to Congress, but I may have been wrong about that. I knew previous PMs have done so, including Blair. If you do find out about other leaders, let me know because I would be interested to find out too.DVD box set is a pretty piss poor gift, but Brown, who is a lover of films, may ironically gain more from it than the leather bomber jacket that Bush gave him, which if they knew anything about Brown’s character, they would know is so NOT him.Obama did confirm himself personally the importance of the special relationship in that awkward as hell press conference. Lip service? Possibly.Obama will also be coming to the G20 economic summit here in April, which considering at one stage he was not supposed to be coming at one stage, is a bit of a coup for Brown. I think he hopes some of the Great One’s charisma will rub off on him. Fat chance of that happening I am afraid.

  4. I did find the following about foreign leaders addressing joint sessions of Congress here on Wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_session_of_the_United_States_Congress#Foreign_dignitariesAnd here is the full data of all joint sessions (not just those for foreign dignitaries):http://clerk.house.gov/art_history/house_history/Joint_Meetings/index.htmlIt looks like in the last decade it averages out at something like 4 or 5 addresses a year from foreign leaders, and they are for the most part restricted to key allies, although not exclusively.

  5. Fantastic Fabi, I’ll check these out in a few, as I’m now very interested in who addressed our Congress. It’s interesting, also, that we don’t really get that as “news” here; it’s aired on CSPAN, I’m sure, but as far as “ooh, so and so was honored to speak to Congress today,” not so much.But hey, the important thing is that Brown thinks it means he’s special. I’m not sure that he and Obama will have the sort of relationship that Blair and Bush (or Reagan and Thatcher) enjoyed; I don’t think Obama is that sort of guy, anyway, he’s more of an idea man, it seems. Now that he’s in a position to do something about those ideas of his, we’ll see how it goes. I hope well. For all of us.

  6. Oh, and is Brown also a lover of model helicopters from the White House Giftshop? Perhaps he was in the RAF as a helio pilot once? That would at least make some sense of that gift, too.

  7. As An American i Can say That The Policy Of Obama Against england Is OK And Fine After All America Fought For It's Independence Against britain(a tyrannic empire)So Why Should America Give Special Treatment To britain,blair supported bush Because he wanted his share of oil in Iraq.

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