Churlish? Or Unready?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jack Kelly, writing of Barack Obama's miserable debut on the foreign stage, notes that those amazed with his je ne sais quoi increasingly include the leaders of other countries.

Obama has been particularly rude to our strongest, and most reliable allies, the British, on multiple occasions now.

"The murmurs began when President Obama returned to the British embassy the Winston Churchill bust that had been displayed in the Oval Office," wrote Dana Milbank of the Washington Post.

"The fears intensified when press secretary Robert Gibbs...demoted the Churchillian phrase 'special relationship' to a mere 'special partnership' across the Atlantic.

"And the alarm bells really went off when Brown's entourage landed at Andrews Air Force Base," Mr. Milbank said. "Obama, breaking with precedent, wouldn't grant the prime minister the customary honor of standing beside him in front of the two nation's flags for the TV cameras."

It got worse. The White House initially cancelled a joint press conference with the prime minister on account of snow. This explanation was unconvincing to Toby Harnden of the London Telegraph, who noted "there are 132 rooms in the White House at least some of which, presumably, are free of snow."

When Mr. Obama did hold a truncated press availability from which most of the British press were excluded, he went right to questions, skipping the usual words of welcome for his guest. The hapless Mr. Brown didn't even get invited to lunch. [bold added]
This is disgraceful, to say the very least, and it may even be intentional. In either case, it has led Kelley to ask a variant of the "evil or stupid" question that seems to be on everyone's lips these days:
In the first of his autobiographies, Mr. Obama said his grandfather was tortured by the British during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s. Winston Churchill was prime minister at the time.

If the snub was deliberate, this is remarkably churlish behavior. If it wasn't, it is evidence Mr. Obama is not ready for prime time. [bold added]
Or Obama is deliberately betraying his country.

Unsurprisingly, his behavior towards Iran has baffled all but the Iranians and the Russians, who see weakness for what it is, regardless of the cause.

I was about to say that I hope we have only a rough four years ahead of us -- until I realized that such hope depends on the Republicans, who put McCain up against Obama in 2008, after Bush set the table for him.

The GOP needs to get back to the drawing board in a hurry!

Regardless of what the Republicans do, America needs and deserves much better than this.

-- CAV

This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 5:00 A.M. on March 10, 2009.


Galileo Blogs said...

Thank you, Gus, for commenting on this. Obama's behavior toward Great Britain is despicable. Moreover, whether "churlish or unready," it is bad for America.

Another insightful comment of yours is this:

"Unsurprisingly, [Obama's] behavior towards Iran has baffled all but the Iranians and the Russians, who see weakness for what it is, regardless of the cause."

This was very insightful for me, as it acknowledges a truth. It doesn't matter why someone is laying down his arms to a bully. He sees it as weakness and exploits it.

All of this leads me to the worry that we will be in a new war before Obama's term is out. Such weakness (and rebuffing of allies) invites aggression. Where will this new war happen?

Gus Van Horn said...


I'm glad you found that helpful.

I think that in short order, it will be apparent that Obama is unfit for office. Is it because he is clueless or evil? That does not matter. He has no business serving.

And just as Russia and China have been lecturing America on economics, we are, in a sense, now being lectured on foreign policy, and, again, could stand to listen.

My guess is that North Korea might be the first to test Obama, and demonstrate his unfitness as Commander-in-Chief.


Fun WIth Gravity said...

That's terrible. Of course, I'm no fan of the British welfare state, yadda yadda, but we go waaaaay back and they deserve waaay better.

I have been pondering on Obama's personality since the election. Many people think he's a man of compassion, but I think he's a ruthless sacrificer, who HAS to know the destruction he is bringing, yet does it anyway, in the name of "the downtrodden".

The real key to his election success may be that he is willing to peform those sacrifices on behalf of more pressure groups than other candidates, and perform more sacrifices unflinchingly. Normal rational values such as preserving productivity, or justice (i.e. *earning* wealth), do not seem to limit Obama.

Gus Van Horn said...


Even THAT might be overgenerous. I think the man's a egomaniac through and through, and sees "the downtrodden" as a means to his glorification.

We are all means, in his eyes. "Man, as an end in himself," is totally alien to him, insofar as he needs adulation, and insofar as he is willing to throw anyone else under the bus to get it.

Of course, the last laugh is on the downtrodden: He is a pure altruist.


Anonymous said...


I think that Obama harbors resentment towards England because of its Colonial history in Kenya, specifically the war against the Mau Maus. This resentment comes from Obama's father who, I believe, hated British rule. I think this also explains the Churchill statue as Churchill was involved with that war. Whatever could be said about Colonialism, good or bad, does not justify Obama's terrible treatment of our most important worldwide ally.


Jim May said...

I think the man's a egomaniac through and through, and sees "the downtrodden" as a means to his glorification.

I usually describe that as "sees the downtrodden as human shields for his ideology."

It's a very sharp, yet accurate description of how altruism is invoked to defend government power used in politics. I use it against anyone who resorts to whining about the poor to fend off criticism.

Gus Van Horn said...

Indeed. The article at RCP mentions the facts you name as a possible motivation (although still not a valid one) for the rude behavior, if it is deliberate.

I completely agree with your overall point, and see this episode as a window into Obama's character.

Obama owes not just the British, but the American public, an apology.

Gus Van Horn said...


Sorry for the long delay in posting and answering. Google is not emailing me when ypu comment (This is twice in a row.) Today, your comment showed up, late in the Blogger queue.

In any event, thanks for bringing up the downtrodden-as-human-shields simile.


Rational Jenn said...

As ever, thank you for contributing to the Objectivist Round Up!

Gus Van Horn said...

You're welcome!