This nonsense started during the transition and extended through the inauguration, with Obama snubbing India in favor of Pakistan, Israel in favor of the Palestinians, and the Philippines in favor of Iran. Now the White House seems to be brainstorming new and better ways to snub Britain: the Churchill bust weirdness with the embassy, the insulting DVD gift to Brown, the “special partnership” slight from Gibbs, and the humiliating treatment that Brown got during his visit:
Commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have noticed that Gordon Brown’s visit to the White House yesterday was not exactly the high-profile boost that the struggling prime minister was hoping for. In a break with protocol, Obama decided to skip the traditional side-by-side photo-op in front of the two nations’ flags, didn’t invite Brown to Camp David as both Clinton and Bush had done for Tony Blair, and kept their Oval Office press conference brief, to the point, and not all that cordial… The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman writes that the meeting “seemed to teeter on the brink of humiliation,” for the prime minister noting that Obama had squeezed him in between a visit to the department of transportation and a meeting with representatives of the Boy Scouts.
(2) It’s amateur hour – Under this category we have Clinton handing the Russian Foreign Minister a kitschy “reset” button – to symbolize renewed US-Russian ties – that actually spelled out “overcharge.” Because apparently knowing Russian isn’t a prerequisite for working in State’s Russia section. Which isn’t totally unfair since knowing how to pronounce the names of Europe’s Foreign Ministers isn’t a prerequisite for being the Secretary of State:
Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts’ names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s. Clinton has set herself a grueling pace on visits to Egypt, Israel and Brussels soon after touring the Far East, attending dozens of meetings and giving speech after speech, with little time worked into her schedule for sleep. Tiredness appeared to show Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985. A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding: “I have never understood multiparty democracy. “It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.” The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.
There are at least some arguments that Obama is just too overwhelmed to not consistently insult one of America’s oldest allies. That’s even the explicit and official White House line, which the Telegraph helpfully headlined as “Barack Obama ‘too tired’ to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown.” But please: DVDs to the British Prime Minister? You have to be comatose to be that stupid.
(3) It’s self-styled sophistication – This is the conceit of “smart power,” where eager 30 something liberals who think that US history began when they started hating Bush in 2001 get to set mid-level diplomacy. This is where things like public diplomacy and Arab media outreach – which consistently seem to end in anti-Israel demonization – get filed. Also: anything that Biden says. It’s particularly ironic given the pile of evidence being amassed for the “amateur hour” theory – and there’s something to it. But the people in charge of White House etiquette are career diplomats. No time for a 2-minute photo op? Really?
(4) It’s realist anti-Bush payback – The partisans of the Iran Lobby have spent the last eight years wallowing in departments and think tanks, stewing about how they were going to roll back the neoconservative agenda. So now that they’re in power: Iran get talks, Russia gets concessions, but Britain and India get snubbed. It’s probably not a coincidence that Britain was the US’s most steadfast Iraq War ally and that India was supposed to serve as Bush’s counterweight to China. On the other hand maybe the realists are being genuine when they say that Britain should be treated as a second-rate power because they’re objectively a second-rate power. Although that doesn’t explain why India and Israel need to be snubbed or why the Axis of Evil countries should be the recipients of US warmth. So: payback.
* Obama Continues Pattern Of Sophisticated Phone Calls With Post-Inauguration First Call To Holocaust Denier, Erstwhile Terrorist [MR]
* What Painting Should Britain Send Obama To Replace The Churchill Bust He Returned? [MR]
To my special friend Gordon, 25 DVDs: Obama gives Brown a set of classic movies. Let’s hope he likes the Wizard of Oz [Daily Mail]
* Brown and Obama work on their ‘special relationship’ [Guardian]
* Gordon Brown’s lame White House visit [FP Passport]
* Churchill, Obama and Bush [Townhall]
* Was ‘Lady Macbeth’ behind Barack Obama’s snub of Gordon Brown? [Telegraph]
* Trickle Down Bumbling… Hillary Goofs On Russian Gift Exchange (Video) [Gateway Pundit]
* Tongue-tied Clinton gets warm EU welcome [Reuters]
* Great news: Obama fumbled Brown visit because he’s in over his head [Hot Air]
* Barack Obama ‘too tired’ to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown [Telegraph]
* Hillary Clinton: Smart Power or Just Dumb Policy? [Human Events]
* Liberal Bloggers Insist Political History Begins in 2001 [Mark Hemingway / NRO]
* US Public Diplomacy – Winning Arab Hearts And Minds By Promising To Sell Out Israel [MR]
* State Department’s Arab TV Station: Israel Conducting “Holocaust Against 1.5 million Palestinians” [MR]
* He Misspoke: Biden’s Obnoxiously Smug Assertion About Hezbollah Was Actually An Aggressively Stupid Policy About Syria (Plus: They Just Don’t Know Stuff) [MR]
* Breathtakingly Stupid VP Candidate Very Lucky The Media’s In The Tank For Obama [MR]
* The “Iran Lobby” Moves Into The White House [MR]
* Her Majesty’s Royal Coast Guard [Defense Tech]
* Obama’s Sophistication Is Actually Kind Of Unsophisticated, Incoherent
* Diplomatic Sophistication Heartbreak: Tension Between Iranian Political Factions A Little Exaggerated
* Smug Liberal Sophistication Undisturbed By Decades Of Disastrously Wrong Domestic And International Predictions