I have to blog it, as stories about The One rudely snubbing the Brits have practically become a staple on righty blogs. Readers love ’em, I think, partly because they’re seen as evidence of his disrespect for American traditions and partly because, when it comes to Britain, his toolishness manifests itself in ways cloddish and comical.
But honestly. Is this mindless diplomatic back-patting really something to get mad over?
Barack Obama has declared that France is America’s greatest ally, undermining Britain’s Special Relationship with the U.S.
The President risked offending British troops in Afghanistan by saying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is a ‘stronger friend’ than David Cameron.
The remarks, during a White House appearance with Mr Sarkozy, will reinforce the widely-held view in British diplomatic circles that Mr Obama has less interest in the Special Relationship than any other recent American leader.
Mr Obama said: ‘We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.’…
Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre For Freedom at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said: ‘Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the U.S. President is difficult to fathom.
Follow the link up top for a painstaking recounting of Obama’s “pattern of coldness” towards the UK, replete with a sidebar speculating about whether he bears them a grudge for their treatment of his grandfather during Kenya’s colonial days. First off, as a purely semantic matter, he didn’t say France is our “greatest ally” or that they’re a “stronger friend” than Britain. (That would be even more absurd than what he actually did say.) He said we have no stronger friends than the French, which could mean that Britain is just as strong. Second, whether you believe him or not, The One told David Cameron as recently as May that “the United States has no closer friend and ally than the United Kingdom” and that he has a “deep and personal commitment to the special relationship between our two countries.” And third, he’s used this same rhetorical formulation before for Great Britain. I hate to link Media Matters but they’ve actually got a useful round-up of quotes on this from Bush officials and other Republicans vis-a-vis other nations (Dubya saying “we’ve got no better friends than Canada,” Condi saying the same of Japan, etc). Nothing new here, really, so what’s this really about? Is this just the ancient antagonism between the Brits and the French flaring up because of praise for Sarkozy?
Exit question via Nile Gardiner: Given reports of Sarkozy’s disdain for Obama, why did The One choose France for such heavy praise?
Update: The Independent is dumping all over the Daily Mail and Gardiner for their “willfully dyslexic” reading of what Obama said.