Tag Archive | "britain"

Is the First Family bringing Shame to America?

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When Michelle Obama put her arm round the Queen at Buckingham Palace, some of the more excitable elements of the media – particularly us Americans – suggested she may have been guilty of a breach of protocol.  It’s true, you just don’t go around hugging the Queen of England.obama-breaks-protocol

Although there is no official book of ‘do’s and dont’s’ and the Queen has made clear in recent years that she does not expect people to curtsy or bow any more, the “no-touch” rule has always been sacrosanct.   (Here is the protocol from the Queen of England’s website — which applies even to her own subjects)

Members of the public introduced to the Queen are told they should wait until she extends her hand for them to take it and kissing is totally frowned upon.the-queen-and-michelle-obama

When the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating put his arm around the Queen in 1992, he was branded the “Lizard of Oz”.  His successor, John Howard, didn’t fare much better and was forced to insist: ‘We firmly deny that there was any contact whatsoever’ when he was accused of touching the royal person.

Barack Obama on HM Queen Elizabeth II — “She reminds me of my grandmother, only with a bigger house“.

Obama Bows to Saudi King at G20 Summit (watch the video).   Americans do not bow to foreign monarchs because that act signifies the monarch’s power over his subjects.

Obama Bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Obama Bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

And then, it was an ipod gift to the 80 yr old Queen of England loaded with Obama Speeches.. actually I take that back…. one of the first embarrasments was when PM Brown from England came to visit President Obama.

It is well understood that visiting diplomatic delegations come bearing gifts and gift giving is returned in like fashion by the host country. It is an ages old human practice in diplomacy after all. Usually the gifts are valuable, representative of the products of the nations involved, or at least symbolic of the history of those nations.

For his part, PM Brown gave two symbolic gifts and one that expressed national pride. Brown came bearing a pen holder carved from the timbers of the sister ship of that which gave the wood to create the famous “Resolute Desk,” the desk that has been in America’s charge since 1880. He also gave Obama the framed commission for that famous ship, the HMS Resolute. His third gift was a seven-volume biography of one of England’s greatest leaders, Winston Churchill.

So, what did President Obama give the British PM? 25 movies on DVD. Yeah, that’s it. Brown gives a symbolic gift like the pen holder fashioned from a famous British warship and Obama responds by sending a staffer to WalMart to pick up a few quick movies.

And I’m not the only one to scoff at this thoughtless gift. The entire British press is up in arms. Many in Britain are seeing this as entirely gauche and indicative of the low esteem in which the Obama’s hold England.

Worse, no one is 100% sure that Obama was smart enough to know that DVDs made in America don’t play on European DVD players. American DVDs are created in the “Region One” format while those in Europe play in “Region Two” format. A U.S. DVD just won’t play on a machine made for the English market.

Not to be out done in tastelessness by her husband, Michelle got into the act, too. Mrs. Brown came bearing two outfits for the Obama girls from Topshop, one of Britain’s trendiest and expensive women’s wear retail outlets.

In return, Michelle apparently had a staffer run down to the White House gift shop and grab two toy Marine One helicopter models for the Brown’s boys.

Class all the way.

All of this is on top of the snub of the Brits that Obama tossed off immediately upon entering office. One of his first official acts was to summarily return to the Brits the generous gift of the most famous bust of Winston Churchill that has sat in the Oval Office since the attacks on 9/11.

This threw British diplomats into a tizzy really blindsiding them. Even when they reiterated that Obama could keep the generous gift to the American people, he rejected it without comment leaving the Brits at a loss for words.

White House Press Kit: Britain ‘slightly smaller than Oregon’

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Toby Harnden – Telegraph.co.uk

So here’s what the White House is telling American reporters – and by extension the American people – about Britain. It’s laid out in an inch-thick “press kit”, with the Seal of the President of the United States emblazoned on the cover, handed out to each of us on board the White House press charter en route from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington to Stansted.

The United Kingdom, we are told, is “slightly smaller than Oregon”. As for the the British climate, it is “generally mild and temperate” and “subject to frequent changes but few extremes of temperature”. A “group of islands close to continental Europe”, Britain has been “subject to many invasions and migrations”.

We’re taken through the Roman invasion (“brought more active contacts with the rest of Europe”), the Norman invasion (led to “active involvement in European affairs…for several hundred years”) and various travails with the Welsh, Scots and Irish before the British empire reached its zenith in Victorian times.

Then it all started to go wrong. “The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom’s preeminent international position of the previous century”.

Those fretting about the demise of the term “special relationship” might not be reassured by this briefing book. There’s talk of a “strong bilateral relationship”, of the UK being “one of the United States’ closest allies” and of “close coordination” and “bilateral cooperation” between two countries who “continually consult on foreign policy”. Everything except “special”.

After the country sections, we’re introduced the personalities, with information mainly culled from their websites. Queen Elizabeth “enrolled as a girl Guide when she was eleven, and later became a Sea Ranger”, we are informed. During the war she “put on pantomimes with the children of members of staff for the enjoyment of her family and employees of the Royal Household”.

Gordon Brown’s entry reads a little like one of those awful Christmas round robins. Young Gordon, we are told repeatedly, was very, very clever. He “did well a school from an early age” and then “excelled at sport and joined in every aspect of school life, quickly becoming popular”.

He “took his exams a year ahead of his contemporaries” and “went on to University at the age of 15”, where he edited the student newspaper “in a prize-winning year” and won “a First Class Honours degree and a number of prizes for his studies”.

David Cameron seems to be auditioning for the role of British Barack in advance of his big meeting with the President tomorrow (in the Yellow Room at Winfield House), stating he was elected Conservative leader with a “mandate to change the party and change the country” and “believes there is urgent need for change”.

Since her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, has scaled down her claims of being “instrumental” in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. All we get on the Emerald Isle is a modest: “With Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary Clinton worked to launch the government’s Vital Voices Democracy Initiative.”

The former New York senator skips quickly over her defeat in the battle for the Democratic nomination. “In 2006, Senator Clinton won reelection to the Senate, and in 2007 she began her historic campaign for president,” her biography reads. “In 2008, she campaigned for the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

For those who might bristle at the “slightly smaller than Oregon” description of Britain (which seems to originate from the CIA World Factbook), US geographical comparisons are also included in the other country profiles prepared by the State Department’s  Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

Germany – a “reliable US ally” since 9/11 – is “about the size of Montana” while the Czech Republic “about the size of Virginia”. 

We are informed that France is “America’s oldest ally” and was “instrumental in helping Britain’s American colonies establish independence” and more recently has been “a close partner with the US in the war on terror”.

It is the largest country in Europe. But only “about four-fifths the size of Texas”.

Oregon, by the way, has a population of 3.7 million while the population of the UK is more than 60 million.