June 18, 2010


The Great Anglo-American Spat: British public opinion was wildly in favor of candidate Obama. President Obama is proving to be something else again. (Victor Davis Hanson, 6/17/10, National Review)

[T]wo ancillary considerations perhaps explain why the British are especially upset at these real and hyped slights.

One is embarrassment, and the second a sort of fear.

First, in 2008 the British public heavily invested in candidate Obama as a long-awaited social-democratic anti-Bush. Four years earlier, in 2004, the British media had closely followed the American presidential election, with some commentators haughtily berating the voters of Ohio for giving Bush the margin of victory — as if one swing state that went conservative was responsible for ensuring a continuance of global discord. In this regard, the boorish and untrue slur against George Bush’s supposed lack of interest in reading, offered earlier this month by the new court jester, Paul McCartney, as a sort of toady tip to a smiling Obama, is par for the course rather than a clumsy divot.

In 2008, the British public and press both bought, hook, line, and sinker, the reset-button promises of Barack Obama to be a listener. They welcomed a sort of elegant post-racial Wilsonian multilateralist — and, better yet, a progressive who did not drawl or offend like the pink, tongue-tied bore of old, Jimmy Carter. And so the damn-Bush/praise-Obama chorus sang on in Britain.

That the supposed yokel “Yo, Blair!” George W. Bush was strongly pro-British and that he cared deeply about his partnership with Tony Blair (who often had more influence on Bush than vice versa) were conveniently ignored. Indeed, the British were embarrassed by Bush’s fondness for Blair and for the U.K. in general, as if he were some sort of Walmart Velcro that just wouldn’t come unstuck.

Now, of course, the British have got what they wanted, and they are beginning to rue it. They fear that they have been had. And in a way, they most certainly have.

All of which brings us to our second consideration, the suspicion among some Brits that the Obama hostility is not so much the clumsiness of a raw rookie as it is the logical expression of our first “Pacific president,” who feels no special affinity with Europe or reverence for the Western tradition — and thus especially no love for our colonial mother, Britain.

...it did serve as sufficient warning that they didn't make the Australian mistake of electing their own UR.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 18, 2010 5:49 AM
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