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Saturday, March 7, 2009

President Obama and the 25 Hour Day

(H/T to Hot Air ) The Telegraph has a startling and very troubling article that recounts both what lead up to the trip by Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, and the reaction of the administration afterwards. First, we need a recap. Much of the British media, the political establishment, and society at large feel as though the administration snubbed both Brown and the country at large because not only was there not a formal press conference but the administration presented as gifts to Brown a set of 25 DVDs. Among Brown's gifts to Obama, he handed him a pen carved out of a ship that was involved in ending the slave trade.

According to the article, the Obama administration's behavior can be attributed to a combination of total exhaustion and a lack of care.

Barack Obama's offhand approach to Gordon Brown's Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America's economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.


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.


The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly.

In addition to passing the largest stimulus package and the largest budget in US history, Mr Obama is battling a plummeting stock market, the possible bankruptcy of General Motors, and rising unemployment. He has also begun historic efforts to achieve universal healthcare, overhaul education and begin a green energy revolution all in his first 50 days in office.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that one of Mr Obama's most prominent African American backers, whose endorsement he spent two years cultivating, has told friends that he detects a weakness in Mr Obama's character.

"The one real serious flaw I see in Barack Obama is that he thinks he can manage all this,"

There are several troubling things revealed in this report. First, there is a reason why more often than not governors rather than senators are elected president. That's because it is governors that understand the day to day grind of being the chief executive. George Allen was fond of saying that he made more decisions in a week as governor than he did in his entire six years as senator.

President Obama faces near unprecedented pressure even beyond the general pressure of any president. Clearly, this article makes the case that he isn't handling all this pressure. He has put so much focus on domestic issues that foreign policy has become nothing more than an afterthought.

Except it isn't an afterthought. We are involved in two theaters in a larger world war. Furthermore, dismissing foreign policy is no way to "renew our standing in the world" as President Obama promised. We need to try and put this mistake into perspective. If an administration doesn't understand gift giving, how exactly will they be able to formulate a policy for Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran? Think about all the criticism that George Bush took, and yet, his administration never made a mistake this elementary.

The more troubling part is that the president seems to think he can handle the economic crisis, the real estate crisis, the banking crisis, health care, energy independence, and education all at once. Clearly, he can't. We know this because as a result he couldn't handle simple customs when an important foreign leader visits.

Anyone that thinks that Britain is no different than any of the other 190 countries has little appreciation for even the most basic history. They have no place in the administration let alone speaking anonymously to the media.

What this article reveals is that the disrespect shown to Brown is not just some simple oversight. Instead, it reveals a White House not only in over its head but one that shows a destructive hubris. Here is a White House that is trying everything all at once and as a result they overlook basic functions like handling a visit from an important foreign dignitary. All of us that wondered aloud about then candidate Obama simply not being ready to be President Obama. We can only hope that his on the job training is short as the country simply cannot withstand many more disastrous visits like the one just made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Mike Jefferson said...

The Obamanation's problem is that he is too busy flying around and partying instead of working and focusing on the issues. What we're seeing in action mirrors that of the campaign - he's an empty suit that isn't ready for prime time. Woe is us.

Wolf O'donnell said...

Well you are taking the Telegraph's reporting as gospel, when they like so much of the British tabloid press have a history of inventing sensational stories by quoting "unnamed advisors," (i.e. likely faking sources, with the stories unconfirmed elsewhere). I highly doubt for instance that an "unnamed State Dept. official" said that stuff about "no special relationship."

pedro said...

obviously mr. o'donnell knows nothing about the telegraph which is one of the most oft quoted newspapers in britain and not a "tabloid" is as close to the voice of the tories as any conservative paper in england.

Mia Zagora said...

"The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly."

No it's not. It's indicative of a lack of class. George Bush may not have been as eloquent a BS'er as Obama, but he certainly knew how to get along with foreign dignitaries. Bush was warm and friendly and had charm. Obama's about a lovable as a Chicago mobster...

The Obamas certainly have the stamina to party hardy at the White House. Maybe Obama needs to get to bed earlier, stop smoking so much and lay off the Colt 45.

Even Clinton went jogging every once in a while.


BeyondGreen said...

There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent! We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources.Create cheap clean energy, new badly needed green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs. After a brief reprieve gas is inching back up.OPEC will continue to cut production until they achieve their desired 80-100. per barrel.If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in electric drive trainsthe amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.There is a really good new book out by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now.

Anonymous said...

As an American, I am horrified that the Prime Minister of Britain, and by extension the people of Britain, were treated this way. Whoever in this administration said we have no special relationship with Britain is an ignoramous. I was not in agreement with Blair, for example, on his politics, but you cannot even begin to imagine how much it meant to average Americans that he stood with courage and strength to back us in defending ourselves after 9/11. We do have a very special relationship with Britain, and we thank you very much for the support and friendship you have shown us in our lifetimes, much less throughout history.

frog said...

Beyond Green,

Absolutely, we could kill two birds with one stone right now by investing in ready-to-go alternative fuels that are cheap and abundant in North America. I'm talking about coal and natural gas. Coal gasification is a bridge technology to "green energy". It is cleaner than coal and can be used for transportation as well. The American automakers would get the needed restructuring which might spur a renaissance in manufacturing. State and local mandates for natural gas powered transportation could follow a federal mandate. This can be done now! Wind and Solar energy will take decades and multiple trillion dollar investments BEFORE ever seeing a return if at all.
See this:

Anonymous said...

Twenty five DVDs! Free! I hope at the very least, Prime Minister Brown will be spared having to buy 3 more at regular club prices.

Ben L. Kemer said...

I'm roughly disappointed. I hope that this behavior does not continue. The last thing we need after Bush is someone who treats our visiting ambassadors worse than he did. I pray that this is just a mistake, and does not happen again.