Monday, March 9, 2009
Obama Insults Our Friends in Great Britain and Their Prime Minister
The arrogance of this new administration knows no bounds. Instead of honoring the prime minister of our greatest ally, Barack Obama has delivered a series of political insults that diminishes our relationship with the British in a very public fashion.
It's my understanding that, in addition to the insults below, Brown was not accorded a state dinner and the bust of Winston Churchill given to the American people by England after 9-11 was returned with no explanation.
As Obama gets up close and personal with such dangerous nations as Syria and Iran, he is foolish indeed to minimize our need for our best friend in the world – Great Britain.
Mark Steyn’s commentary is a sobering read (below), as is the London Telegraph reaction that follows it:
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Monday, March 9, 2009
Brushing off Mr. Brown
Mark Steyn - Commentary
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown thought long and hard about what gift to bring on his visit to the White House last week.. Barack Obama is the first African-American president, so the prime minister gave him an ornamental desk-pen holder hewn from the timbers of one of the Royal Navy´s anti-slaving ships of the 19th century, HMS Gannet. Even more appropriate, in 1909 the Gannet was renamed HMS President.
The president´s guest also presented him with the framed commission for HMS Resolute, the lost British ship retrieved from the Arctic and returned by America to London, and whose timbers were used for a thank-you gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford Hayes - the handsome desk that now sits in the Oval Office.
And, just to round things out, as a little stocking-stuffer, Gordon Brown gave President Obama a first edition of Sir Martin Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill.
In return, America's head of state gave the Prime Minister 25 DVDs of "classic American movies."
Evidently, the White House gift shop was all out of "MY GOVERNMENT DELEGATION WENT TO WASHINGTON AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT" T-shirts. Still, the "classic American movies" set is a pretty good substitute, and it can set you back as much as $38.99 at Wal-Mart: Lot of classics in there, I'm sure - "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," "The Sound Of Music" - though this sort of collection always slips in a couple of "Dude, Where's My Car? 3" and "Police Academy 12," just to
make up the numbers.
I'll be interested to know if Mr Brown has anything to play the films on back home, since U.S.-format DVDs don't work in United Kingdom DVD players. It could be worse. The president might have given him the DVD of "He's Just Not That Into You."
Gordon Brown landed back in London a sadder but wiser man. The Fleet Street correspondents reported sneeringly that he (and they) had been denied the usual twin-podia alternating-flags press conference. The Obama administration had supposedly penciled one in for the Rose Garden, but then there was that catastrophic snowfall (a light dusting). This must be the first world leaders' press conference to be devastated by
No doubt President Obama could have relocated it to a prestige indoor venue, like the windowless room round the back of the White House furnace in Sub-Basement Level 5. But why bother? Some freak flood would have swept through and washed the prime minister and his DVD set into the Potomac and out to the Atlantic. By the time the Coast Guard fished him out, the sodden classic movies wouldn't work in any American DVD
player any better than in the British one.
Mr. Brown did, however, get to give an almost entirely unreported address to Congress. U.S. legislators greeted his calls to resist protectionism with a round of applause, and then went back to adding up how much pork in the "Buy American" section of the stimulus bill would be heading their way.
I would make a modest prediction that in 2012, after four years of the man who was supposed to heal America's relations with a world sick of all that swaggering cowboy unilateralism, those relations will be much worse. From Canada to India, the implications of the Obama ascendancy are becoming painfully clear..
The other week Germany's Der Spiegel ran a piece called "Why Obamania Isn't The Answer," which might more usefully have been published before the Obamessiah held his big Berlin rally. Written by some bigshot with the German Council on Foreign Relations and illustrated by the old four-color hopey-changey posters all scratched up and worn out, the essay conceded that Europe had embraced Mr. Obama as a "European
Very true. The president is the most European American ever to sit in the Oval Office. And, because of that, he doesn't need any actual European Europeans getting in the way - just as, at his big victory night rally in Chicago, the first megastar president megastar megastars from Hollywood clogging up the joint: Movie stars who wanted to fly in were told by his minders that he didn't want any other celebrities deflecting attention from him. Same with world leaders. If it's any consolation to Gordon Brown, he's just not that into any of you.
What Mr. Brown and the rest of the world want is for America, the engine of the global economy, to pull the rest of them out of the quicksand. That's not unreasonable. Even though a big chunk of the subprime/securitization/credit bubble axis originated in the United States and got exported round the planet, almost every one of America's trading partners will wind up getting far harder hit.
And that was before Mr. Obama made clear that for him the economy takes a very distant back seat to the massive expansion of government it provides cover for. That's why he is indifferent to the plummeting Dow. The president has made a strategic calculation that, to advance his plans for socialized health care, "green energy" and a big government state, it is to his advantage for things to get worse. And, if things go from bad to worse in America, overseas they'll go from worse to total societal collapse.
We have already seen changes of government in Iceland and Latvia, rioting in Greece and Bulgaria. The great destabilization is starting on the fringes of Europe and working its way to the Continent's center.
We're seeing not just the first contraction in the global economy since 1945, but also the first crisis of globalization. This was the system America and the other leading economies encouraged everybody else to grab a piece of. But whatever piece you grabbed - exports in Taiwan, services in Ireland, construction in Spain, oligarchic industrial-scale kleptomania in Russia - it's all crumbling.
Ireland and Italy are nation-state versions of Bank of America and General Motors. In Eastern Europe, the countries way out on the end of the globalization chain can't take a lot of heat without widespread unrest. And the fellows who'll be picking up the tab are the West European banks who loaned them all the money.
Gordon Brown was hoping for a little more than: "I feel your pain. And have you ever seen 'The Wizard Of Oz'? It's about this sweet little nobody who gets to pay a brief visit to the glittering Emerald City before being swept back to the reassuring familiarity of the poor thing's broken down windswept economically devastated monochrome dustbowl. You'll love it!"
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"? Oh, perish the thought. The prime minister flew 8,000 miles for dinner and a movie. But the president says he'll call. Next week. Next month. Whatever.
Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller "America Alone" and is an internationally syndicated columnist.
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Here is a response from the London Telegraph:
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Was 'Lady Macbeth' behind Barack Obama's snub of Gordon Brown?
March 5, 2009
On US radio's Garrison show today, I was asked for my reaction as a true born Englishman to President Obama's double insult - first the sending back of the Winston Churchill bust, then his snub to Gordon Brown. "Tough one. Really tough one," I said, torn - as most of surely are - between delight at seeing Brown roundly humiliated, and dismay at having the special relationship so peremptorily, cruelly and bafflingly ruptured.
Iain Martin is quite right here: no matter how utterly rubbish we have become as a nation in the Blair/Brown years, Britain's friendship is something Obama will come to regret having dispensed with so lightly. This was not the act of a global statesman, but of a hormonal teenager dismissing her bestest of best BFs for no other reason than that she felt like it and she can, so there.
What was the guy thinking? In researching my new book Welcome to Obamaland, I discovered that Obama's judgment is pretty dreadful - but this? My favourite theory so far - suggested by presenter Greg Garrison - was that it was a move calculated to please his Lady Macbeth. At the moment in Britain, we're still in the "Doesn't she look fabulous in a designer frock" stage of understanding of Michelle Obama. Gradually, though, we'll begin to realise that she is every bit the terrifying executive's wife that Hillary Clinton was. Or, shudder, Cherie Blair.
We may just LURVE Michelle's fashion sense. But Michelle doesn't reciprocate our affection, one bit. Her broad-brush view of history associates Brits with the wicked white global hegemony responsible for the slave trade. Never mind that a white, Tory Englishman - William Wilberforce - brought the slave trade to an end. Judging by her record, Michelle does not make room for such subtle nuance.
Consider her notorious statement that: "For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country." Consider her (till-recently suppressed) Princeton thesis, "Princeton Educated Blacks And The Black Community."
In it she writes: "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."
Here we see that she has mastered the authentic voice of grievance culture. She also - the thesis was written in 1985 - pre-empts the Macpherson report's ludicrous, catch-all definition of racism: "A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person." No matter how hard young Michelle's white undergraduate contemporaries try to be nice, it's not their behaviour that counts, but how Michelle feels.
More worrying, though, and dangerous, than young Michelle's desperate quest for validation through victimhood is the other strain within her thesis. "As I enter my final year at Princeton," she writes. "I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates - acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals at Princeton are not as clear as before."
"Yes, exactly, you silly girl" you want to shriek at young Michelle as you give her a good shake. "It's called 'opening your mind', 'broadening your experience', 'allowing youthful dogma to be shaped by reality.' It's why people go to university, don't you know?"
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I also heard a news report that quoted an Obama State Department spokesman who said Britain was only one of many countries at the United Nations.
Sure, let’s rank them up there with Iran, China, Russia, and our other “pals”….
As someone who has served in the War on Terror with the brave troops from the United Kingdom, I am embarrassed at this incident. I also extend the best wishes of all Americans who greatly treasure their long relationship and deep friendship with our British friends.
Charles M. Grist