Thursday, March 05, 2009

Smarter Diplomacy!

Beware of Obamas bearing gifts:
Our British cousins are getting the feeling that the new administration doesn't fancy them.

The murmurs began when President Obama returned to the British Embassy the Winston Churchill bust that had been displayed in the Oval Office since Tony Blair lent it to George W. Bush.

The fears intensified when press secretary Robert Gibbs, announcing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to the White House, demoted the Churchillian phrase "special relationship" to a mere "special partnership" across the Atlantic.

And the alarm bells really went off when Brown's entourage landed at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday night. Obama, breaking with precedent, wouldn't grant the prime minister the customary honor of standing beside him in front of the two nations' flags for the TV cameras. The Camp David sleepover that Blair got on his first meeting with Bush? Sorry, chaps.

Pissing off our best friend and the only major world power that has stood alongside us in the War on Terror? Genius! But it gets worse. It seems that, compared to their British counterparts, our elegant, sophisticated, Ivy League president and his lovely wife are a couple of thoughtless cheapskates:

During his historic trip to Washington, Gordon Brown gave Barack Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet - once called HMS President. ... [along with] a framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to mark Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.

He also gave a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

Nice. Thoughtful. Classy! Meanwhile,
...despite being leader of the world's most bountiful nation, President Obama handed over nothing more thought-provoking than 25 classic American films on DVD. ...

Number 10 was staying silent about the gift, but the Mail has learned the American Film Institute produced a box set of 25 top U.S. movies as a "special request" for the White House last month.

No word as to whether these American DVDs can even be played in Britain. The Brown children fared no better:

Mr Brown and his wife also showered gifts on the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children's books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.

In return, the Obamas gave the Browns two models of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, to take home to sons Fraser and John.

Which, as a commenter at Protein Wisdom notes, can be purchased at the White House gift shop for $15 a pop.

All I can say is, thank goodness we don't have that classless Texan cowboy in the White House anymore.

Via baldilocks, Ace, and Protein Wisdom.

BENEDICK ADDS: The Brits have a word for that: Niggardly. Go ahead and denounce me, knee-jerk non-grammarians.

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