Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama Just Loves To Insult Our British Allies

Makes Bush looks like sophisticated Man-Of-The-World

I have refrained from commenting on this until now, waiting for the fallout to settle so the damage might be assessed.

The military—of any nation—is composed of human beings. As in any group of people, in the military you will find those who are the salt of the Earth, those who are absolute jerks—even villains, and everything in between. Correspondingly, you are taught that when you salute, you are saluting the uniform and not the man.

Obama might have learned that lesson had he ever served in the military. But he didn't. He has apparently never even heard of the practice—that, or he just doesn’t care.

Obama appears to be an Anglophobe. He has said that his grandfather was detained for more than six months by the British who suspected him of involvement in the bloody Mau-Mau rebellion. True or not this should be irrelevant. In dealing with the heads and the ambassadors of other nations, Obama is mandated to represent the people of the United States of America—not embark on childish and disgraceful public snit-fits.

First, Obama surprised and insulted the British by returning a bust of Winston Churchill, presented to the Oval Office by the British Government as a show of friendship and solidarity after 9/11.

Then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Washington—the first official visit of any head of state to the new President.

Obama cancelled the Rose Garden press conference—traditional in welcoming heads of state—"because of snow" and held a small, awkward and ill-prepared press conference in the Oval Office, leaving out more than a dozen British reporters for lack of room, (there are 132 rooms in the White House, including the huge East Room which was presumably free of snow at the time.) Obama also denied the British prime minister an official state dinner.

Prime Minster Brown presented Obama a pen holder carved from the remains of the HMS Gannet, a Victorian warship that once ran anti-slavery missions along the African coast. The wood of HMS Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute, was used to create the President's famous Resolute Desk, a gift from Britain which has been in the Oval Office since 1880. The Prime Minister also gave Obama the framed, original commission of the HMS Resolute, and a first edition of Sir Martin Gilbert's seven-volume authorized biography of Winston Churchill.

Obama's gift to the Prime Minister? A box of 25 DVDS including ET, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Raging Bull, Casablanca, The Graduate and—perhaps most poignant of all—Psycho.

To make matters worse—if that's possible—Obama wasn't smart enough to know that DVDs made for US audiences won't work on British DVD players. British and American DVD players use incompatible formats.

Mrs. Brown then presented the Obama children with two outfits from Topshop, one of Britain's trendiest and most expensive women's-wear stores.

Apparently having learned the art of tastelessness at her husband's side, Mrs. Obama had an aide run down to the White House gift shop to snatch away two toy Marine One Helicopter pieces of junk models for the Prime Minister's children.

Obama then cut the meeting short in order to meet with a group of Boy Scouts, (I'm not making this up, folks.)

But wait—there’s more:

British Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell is now saying that 10 Downing Street is finding it "unbelievably difficult" to get in touch with members of Obama's administration. British officials can't seem to get past the White House answering machines as they try to coordinate plans for the upcoming G20 summit.

O'Donnell said that when he tries to get in touch with key members of Obama's Treasury Department "there is nobody there." The phones ring and no one answers or he gets only a answering machine message. "You cannot believe how difficult it is," O'Donnell said to participants of a civil service conference.

I could say more about this disgraceful state of affairs, but what more needs be said? Well, perhaps more of the British reaction. I will end with comments on the debacle from the UK's Telegraph newspaper:

One thing’s certain when President Obama arrives in London at the end of March - he’ll receive a far warmer and more cordial welcome than the one he doled out to Gordon Brown in Washington earlier this week. As the British media widely noted, the Prime Minister was given a humiliatingly low key reception at the White House at the hands of a new US Administration that seems to care little for the Anglo-American alliance or even the basics of international diplomacy.

No British leader in modern times has been greeted with less decorum by his American counterpart, and the amateur reception he received was more fitting for the arrival of a Third World potentate than the leader of America’s closest ally...a British Prime Minister deserves to be treated with respect, even he is a lame duck at home or is barely recognizable to much of the American public.

President Bush was frequently labeled a cowboy and an isolationist by his critics, but the Bush White House knew how to receive its guests (including traveling press corps) with tremendous dignity, respect for tradition and sincere warmth towards visitors who had traveled thousands of miles to be there.

When Joe Biden outlined the US administration’s foreign policy at the Munich Security Conference last month, he delivered a muddled, quintessentially European-style speech that projected naiveté and confusion. It was a weak-kneed address that could easily have been drafted in Paris or Brussels, a celebration of “soft power” at a time of growing threats to international security. His words revealed a soft underbelly to the American superpower, one that will be probed and exploited by Washington’s worst enemies.

Whether Obama is actually up to the task remains to be seen. His meeting with Brown this week was nothing short of a PR disaster, the embarrassing fledgling steps of a new president unschooled in foreign affairs. He was out of his depth and it showed... the young president could learn a thing of two about leadership from Sir Winston Churchill, the British hero whose bust he so crassly removed from the Oval Office.


  1. We are supposed to say hip hip hurah British Citizens more than one hundred years ago fought the slave trade.

    But, as to British citizens only 50 years ago, a generation where you can still find living members, we are just supposed to say it doesn’t matter that they tortured Obama’s Grandfather.

    It’s the Brits who brought up the History Issue. They tried to use it to their advantage. But now when History has bit them on the butt as it often does they go crying.

    Either neither of these historical issues should matter (and in that case then the pen set was kind of a lame gift) or they both should.

    The Brits are trying to have it both ways.

  2. Remember also that the only connection Obama has with Slavery is that the white part of his family owned slaves.

    And also it is possible that his Kenyan ancestors took part on the other side of slave trade by selling the traders the people they caught.

    So, that was a very ill conceived gift for Obama indeed.

    And again, it was the Brits who brought up the "History Issue". They thought it would work for them. But what is more important? What happened over 150 years ago or what happened over 50 years ago?

    The Brits are trying to have it both ways.

  3. I take it you don't care for the Brits? That's your prerogative--everyone has a natural right to hate whatever or whomever they choose.

    I have heard rumors about Obama's grandfather being tortured by the Brits, but Obama didn't mention that in his book--I certainly would have--and Obama doesn't seem to exercise anything resembling common restraint. I therefore have my reservations about the veracity of the story: I suppose it depends on which prevaricating media outlet you choose to give creedence.

    I agree that the British government is no candidate for sainthood. Their actions over the last several decades--especially involving Rhodesia and other African nations--have been unconscionable.

    However, I wonder if perhaps you missed the point of the article?

    When dealing with a visiting dignitary, the President should act like The President. Barring that--being a naive, inept, fledgling in the office--he should simply behave like any gentleman welcoming a guest--and it matters not whether the guest is British, German, Iranian, North Korean, Russian, Icelandic or even... The French.

    Instead, Obama and his wife behaved like nothing less than trailer trash at a belching contest--"By the way, I canceled the press conference you had planned. Hell, NO, you're not getting a state dinner! Here's a DVD go watch Psycho, (won't work on your machine, though. Tough.) Here. Here's some crappy toys for your rug-rats--I swiped'em outta the gift shop. Now go find something else to do--I gotta go talk to the Boy Scouts. Don't let the door whack you in the ass."

    Despicable, outrageous and totally unacceptable behavior for a head of state. Even Putin doesn't treat visiting dignitaries in such a disgraceful fashion.

  4. There are more complex issues here than you are willing to admit.

  5. Anonymous said... 4
    "There are more complex issues here than you are willing to admit."

    Ye Gods, another amateur mind-reader! Just what the heck are you talking about, Bub? Enlighten us, please.

    I submit that, perhaps things are simpler than you are able to grasp.

    There is nothing complex about courtesy. There is nothing complex about decorum. There is nothing complex about maintaining the dignity of your office in the eyes of the world.

    Winston Churchill was able to meet with Charles de Gaulle and Joseph Stalin at the end of World War II--people he passionately loathed. Yet he simply behaved as a gentleman toward them no matter how much he groused about them behind their backs.

    Civility is simple--unless, of course, you are anonymously insulted by someone implying you are lying.

  6. It is about world perspectives. Sure for us whose grandfathers fought alongside the British against the Nazis it is obvious why we would see Winston Churchill as such a hero.

    But how can we expect someone whose grandfather was tortured by the British under Churchill to feel the same way about him? To that person a Bust of Churchill would be perceived as equivalent to a Bust of Hitler.

    Now I know what you must think of me now and No I am not a PCer although perhaps having grown up the environment we have all experienced since the 1960s despite all my struggling a bit of it may have rubbed off, well perhaps. But although not PC I do try to have the ability of "putting ones foot in someone elses shoes or sandals). Not so I can just cave in and agree with their perspective but mostly as a way to anticipate future behavior on their part.

    Now I would be the first to say that regardless of the validity of other people's perspectives it is mine that is important. What I mean by that is in regards to how my government should conduct its affairs in that we can look to the interests and perspectives of others but in the end ours are valid too and should be promoted. But still as we go along in the 21st century can we afford to maintain a 20th century view of Winston Churchill when we are going around negotiating with people who for them Churchill is no better than Hitler, with people whose grandfathers were not tortured by Nazi Concentration Camp Guards but instead by Brits under the leadership of Winston Churchill?

    Perhaps we can. If I was sure one way or the other the issue wouldn't be so complicated but instead would be clear.

  7. I as an American also found the gift that they gave Obama offensive.

    It is offensive in an indirect way that I would have to explain but offensive nonetheless.

  8. Please forgive the late reply. My time is not necessarily my own.

    Anonymous said... 6

    "It is about world perspectives. Sure for us whose grandfathers fought alongside the British against the Nazis it is obvious why we would see Winston Churchill as such a hero.

    But how can we expect someone whose grandfather was tortured by the British under Churchill to feel the same way about him? To that person a Bust of Churchill would be perceived as equivalent to a Bust of Hitler."

    It is entirely possible that Obama's grandfather was tortured by the British--I wouldn't doubt that such a horrible thing may have occurred. I find it curious, however, that there seems to be only one media report on this torture story which has been recounted--essentially verbatum--in many, many media outlets. Yet Obama himself has said nothing about such torture and his own account of his grandfather's treatment by the British in his book Dreams of my Father differs from that media account. They can't both be true. Where does the truth lie?

    As to Churchill: "Sir Winston Churchill has been named the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll attracting more than a million votes."

    The British, under Queen Victoria, supported the Confederate States during the American Civil War. What do you suppose would be the American reaction--or Obama's--if a newly-elected British prime minister rudely and unceremoniously booted out a bust of Abraham Lincoln at 10 Downing Street?

    But lets look at the very essence of your question which I believe to be: Should the President of the United States--a public servant and representative of the American people, whose decisions and actions affect certainly over 300,000,000 people and potentially billions--let his personal feelings color those decisions rather than basing them on the pros and cons of the facts alone?

    Please keep in mind that the situation was far more complex than I am making it appear here, but; the deciding factor in President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 seems to have been that Saddam Hussein--in Bush's words--"tried to kill my dad."

    So, what is the obvious answer to the essence of your question?