Opinion: Obama phones Britain’s PM Brown to disprove any rookie snub
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Welcome back to those readers who’ve been recently consumed by Melissa getting ‘the shaft’ from Jason over on ‘The Bachelor’ and those tracking the bofo efforts by President Obama’s staff and ex-Clinton cohorts to boost Rush Limbaugh’s radio ratings and earnings.
In an effort to follow the president’s suggestion that they not check their dismal 401(k)s all the time because, he says, markets fluctuate, many politics followers over here have been watching the simmering flap over the perceived snub of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown by the White House, suspecting it was another rookie mistake by a president who hired Hillary Clinton to handle all that foreign stuff.
Some sensitive Brits, who recall that Brown dropped everything to provide that happy walking photo op during Obama’s European campaign swing last summer (see above), think that Obama, the son of a Kenyan whose homeland had a bloody colonial parting with Britain many years ago, meeting with Mexico’s president before his inauguration, traveling to Canada on his first foreign trip, having Japan’s prime minister over to the White House already, sending Hillary to Asia first, schmoozing with ex-PM Tony Blair at the National Prayer Breakfast, removing the Winston Churchill gift bust from the Oval Office and refusing to schedule a full-fledged side-by-side news conference with Brown that would look great on TV back home where Brown faces elections next year after the Brit was so effusive in his not-exactly-nonpartisan praise for Obama during the U.S. campaign is some kind of slight toward British leaders, who’ve been nothing but publicly stalwart toward the former American rebels for generations.
Passing press chatter, especially in the British press, is one thing. And Obama denied any snub at length here. But a rousing standing ovation for Brown’s speech to a joint session of Congress (see C-SPAN video on the jump below), where the prime minister named Obama mentor Sen. Edward Kennedy an honorary knight, may have caused second thoughts.
So the new president phoned Brown today for a chummy chat, the chummiest details of which were reported defensively by the White House in what’s called ‘a readout,’ a summary description. Here’s the complete readout:
The president called Prime Minster Brown today at approximately 3 p.m. In a call that lasted about 10 minutes, the president congratulated the prime minister on his speech to Congress and expressed his appreciation for a very productive visit. The president also thanked the prime minister for the gifts he presented to him: a pen holder carved from the timbers of the HMS Gannet, which was a sister ship of the HMS Resolute, and first edition biography of Winston Churchill. The president noted that the pen set is being displayed on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and the books are in the president’s personal study adjoining the Oval Office. The president and the prime minister discussed that the first lady and Mrs. Brown had a warm and personal visit, as well. The president closed the conversation by stating that he looked forward to seeing the prime minister in London in early April.
So everything’s fine here. Move along.
-- Andrew Malcolm