The UK media, surprisingly, has been all over President Obama the last week or so after the bungled handling of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to the US by Obama officials – and Obama himself.
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.
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.
But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama’s inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
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”.
A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. “I think it’s right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn’t quite understand the British concerns and didn’t get what that was all about.”
The American source said: “Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.
“That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they’re finding it a hard thing to do everything.”
Look – I’ll be the first to say that I don’t envy any new Presidents and the numerous issues they face once they take office. Every new President has had his fair share of conflicts, difficult tasks, etc. to deal with, some worse than others. Eight months into his presidency, Bush faced the worst attack the US has suffered since Pearl Harbor, and he performed admirably in the months after 9-11 because not only did he understand the need to directly confront the terrorist threats we faced with more than just a “law enforcement” approach, but because he also had a team surrounding him who were experienced enough to know what they were doing (give or take a few). Barack Obama is dealing with a domestic economic crisis the US hasn’t dealt with in decades, but not only has his lack of experience come back to bite him in the you-know-where (Ed Morrissey says toldya so here), but his selection of mostly Clinton admin retreads has proven to be disastrous because on domestic policy they think they can resolve the economic mess this country finds itself in with more liberal policies – even though it was liberal policies that greatly enabled the “greedy” lenders and people who couldn’t afford their loans to get away with what they did in the first place!
What is it that they say about those who don’t learn from history?
Also, as a sidenote, let’s just pause for five seconds to think about how the left and the mainstream media (I know – I’m repeating myself) would have reacted if it had been Bush who bungled so badly any head of state visit as badly as Obama did with Brown. Let’s imagine for another five seconds had it been Condi Rice who presented the red “overcharge” button to Russia’s Foreign Minister, or had “mispronounced her EU counterparts’ names.” Right. None of us need that five seconds on either one because we know how they would have reacted. They went absolutely ballistic when Bush gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel an innocent light shoulder rub that was an unwritten violation of the “personal space” rule as well as gave off the appearance of “sexual harassment” (well, at least it did to “outraged” lefties, anyway). Even when Bush got his appearances with heads of state right (which was most of the time) the left still found ways to try and make him look like a dunce. Yet, Obama’s bungles with Gordon and La Clinton’s fumble with the “overcharge” button are portrayed in light-hearted “but c’mon, they’re really trying – give them time” tones with the mainstream press and most of their cohorts on the left. The NYT even sympathetically wrote about Obama’s “graying hair” a couple of days ago as “evidence” of how the challenges confronting him are taking their toll – even though he was actually graying well before he was elected the 44th President of the United States.
Gosh, the job of a President sure is hard work. Who’da thought?!
Too bad Barack Obama didn’t grasp that fact before he decided to run for President. But he was too busy portraying himself as messiah-like healer to figure it out; not only that, but he was surrounded by fawning admirers who treated him that way – like the mainstream media, Democrats who were in awe of him, and by starstruck “moderate” Republicans like David Brooks. This trio of Obama admirers/groupies greatly aided persuading a majority of the American people to put the fate of this country into the hands of a guy who was a State Senator from Illinois just four years ago, a guy who surrounded himself with leftist radicals while rising to the top in Illinois, and a guy who is the scariest kind of radical of all: one who makes radical, socialistic ideas on issues like bank nationalization seem “mainstream.”
Do I feel any schadenfreude over this? No. “Disgust” is more like it, even though the word barely scratches the surface of the emotions a lot of us are feeling over what’s happened over the last two months.
Ok, President Obama. Rant over. You can now go back to eating your waffle.