March 10, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For Redux

I just came across these incredible (now old) news in the Sunday Telegraph, concerning Prime Minister Gordon brown's state visit:
British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.


A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy".


Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including 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. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.
Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.
So the president took over on January 20, had a lengthy weekend around Valentine only three weeks later...
Friday February 13, President Barack Obama is getting away from Washington for a few days to his home in Chicago, leaving behind Cabinet headaches and a partisan divide over his economic stimulus package.

Obama was to make a Friday afternoon flight with his wife, Michelle, and daughters to his chilly hometown, his first return there since taking office. Aides said he planned a low-key, four-day holiday weekend, including a Valentine's Day dinner on Saturday with his wife and a likely basketball game with friends.
... and another three weeks later he is so exhausted that he snubs the head of the government of a major ally.

The majority of Americans who wanted that man will soon be even more disillusioned than they are already anyway. What will this man, who is, six weeks into his office with a lengthy break in the middle, too tired to deal adequately with a state visit, do should another 9/11 hit his country? The mind boggles.

Maybe he is NOT a Muslim. Maybe he IS a natural born American. But one thing he is for sure: a dilettante.


Bruce Church said...

A lot of Americans voted for him because the Europeans liked him, and thought it would be good to get along better with Europeans, if not Muslims. So if he doesn't work out, Americans will more wary of European recommendations in the future.

Alligator said...

This is inexperience in action. Or maybe its just the South Side of Chicago background shining through. Speaking as a person of Scots descent who is not particularly fond of the British, this was pretty bad form in how Brown was treated. I still believe you pay respects to a visiting dignitary. Especially one who has been an important ally the last 100 years or so.

Mr. Obama has spoken about making overtures to Castro, Putin, Chavez and Ahmadinejad. If he meets them I bet his treatment of them won't be a glimmer as shoddy as it was of Brown. And if any "dignitaries" would deserve a cold shoulder it would be those four. They cannot be trusted for a New York minute.

All I can say to Europe is that you are going to find out what some Americans already know. Obama is just a mortal man and not a divine messiah. I really think most Americans and Europeans have just set themselves up for great disappoint due to their unrealistic expectations of this man.

There was much talk by Mr. Obama and his supporters of "restoring" Americas image abroad. Restoring it to what? Our image was already tarnished before George Bush added to it. I'm 55 and as long as I can remember we've been called "ugly Americans" or railed at even by our "allies". We had barely finished liberating France in 1945 when DeGaulle and many of the French went sour on us. When Jimmy Carter was president, you couldn't have asked for a more milquetoast and pacifist leader. But that still didn't curry us favor abroad. In fact Iran and Russia took advantage of it.

I point this out to ask exactly when was this "Golden Era" of Americas image abroad? I don't think it ever existed and I don't think it ever will. But that sure doesn't keep a flood of immigrants from around the globe (legal and illegal) from trying to get here. Strange behavior, if we really are all that bad....

The_Editrix said...

Bruce, that is an interesting perspective. I'd never thought that Americans take European opinions into consideration when electing a president. I think that Obama is so hugely successful in Europe (and specifically Germany) because people understand or at least sense his inherent antiamericanism (and his pro-Muslim stance), so Americans better BE wary of that guideline next time round!

'gator, you are right. Even with a less-than-favourable stance towards Britain or Brown, such a conduct was shockingly rude and -- worse -- amateurish. Given the fact that every president is a newbie at first (alright, GWB had his father and his cronies), Obama's performance is even less excusable.

I couldn't agree more about the way America is received abroad. I can only speak for Germany, and as most of German antiamericanism is sublimated or rationalized antisemitism we can safely assume that nothing America does or doesn't will change the world's opinion.

The_Editrix said...

Two items from my website to underscore my point:

Pictures from German "peace rallies" and a lengthy essay by one of the most strident (and brilliant) critics of German antiamericanism and antisemitism translated by me.

Alligator said...

I'm not saying America is without fault. As a historian, i am acutely aware of our national faults. But I am also acutely aware of the good and positive we have done in the world. In the past 50 days, Mr. Obama has undone much of the Bush policy - at an unprecedented rate for an American president. But I still hear in some quarters people wailing and moaning as if Bush were still in office. What will it take to make you happy and see that there is a quantum change in the direction of our government? Let me answer my own question. I have seen that at no time in history have we really been "loved" buy Europe. And you are right Nora, no matter what we do, a certain segment of European (and American) society is going to find fault with us. That's okay. I would rather be respected or even feared than loved. Right now, we are none of the above. And I seriously doubt Mr. Obama will be able to change any of that perception globally.

The_Editrix said...

Yes, you are right. And I am afraid respect is the last thing Obama will earn America.