Gordon Brown Snubbed Or Slow News Day In The UK?

March 5, 2009

I’m calling it: time of death, 3:05pm, March 5, 2009. Well, it lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. 44 days into his presidency, in fact. Europe was having an extended love affair with Barack Obama, partly because he’s Barack Obama, and partly because he’s not George W. Bush. Everything was going swimmingly, up until the British PM came for a visit. The British are in a tizzy because Gordon Brown was, apparently (and that’s a pretty big “apparently,” looking at the record) snubbed by the president.

James Delingpole from the Telegraph:

“…the special relationship so peremptorily, cruelly and bafflingly ruptured…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.”

and, from the same, my favorite:

“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.”

From the BBC:

“So when an American official spoke of a ‘special partnership’ rather than the ‘special relationship’ that the British like to talk about, it triggered one of those spasms in British political journalism that border on the metaphysical.
Was that a signal of some sort? A code that America was downgrading the transatlantic link?”

The Daily Mail noted that Brown was snubbed not just by Obama but by the US media:

“ABCNews gave Mr Brown less prominence today than it did a story about a sleepwalking dog that walked into a wall.”

The Guardian, going completely off the rails, wonders if the snub comes from Obama’s colonial history:

“It also sharpens the intriguing question of whether the president’s dual colonial inheritance – of Kenyan and Irish ancestry – is helping reshape America’s supposedly ‘special relationship’ with Britain.

The darker days of the UK’s relationship with Kenya may resurface soon when lawyers lodge a class action in the British courts from survivors of the Mau Mau rebellion who claim they were tortured by British soldiers in the 1950s; Obama’s grandfather was among those mistreated during the independence struggle.”

The Guardian continued:

“And why, others inquired, was Brown not met on the steps of the White House by Obama? Was their press conference too short? Was it a considered snub?

Confronted directly by the BBC’s political correspondent, Nick Robinson, with the assertion that ‘unlike many of your predecessors, [you] have not looked towards Europe, let alone Britain,’ the president yesterday denied any cooling had taken place.”

It was the Times of London, however, that uncovered the real snub:

“Like all good guests, Sarah Brown arrived bearing gifts for the children, Malia and Sasha. And they were really nice presents. A bit of thought had clearly gone into choosing them: Top Shop dresses (with matching necklaces) and a selection of books by British authors. Lovely.

Mrs Brown may have two boys but she certainly knows the way to a little girl’s heart. These were gifts chosen in the true spirit of present-giving: to please the recipient, not the giver.

In return Mrs Obama gave the Brown children, Fraser and John, two toy models of Marine One, the Presidential helicopter. Fair enough on the helicopter part, always a popular choice with small boys; but Marine One? It’s not as though anyone needs reminding that Barack Obama is President or that he has his own helicopter. Short of giving the boys Action Man models of her own husband smiting the evil forces of neoconservatism, Mrs Obama’s gesture could not have been more solipsistic or more inherently dismissive of Mrs Brown.”

Sure, this is all amusing, but it doesn’t count for anything until the first European cartoon appears with Obama wearing a cowboy hat and shooting off six-shooters a la Yosemite Sam…I’ll give it until May.


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