This week’s visit by Barack Obama has been a national embarrassment, although Cameron is not the only one at fault. Nick Clegg has been almost as bad, and the same applies to Ed Miliband. A great deal of the media coverage has been more craven still. I have detected very little sense that Britain is a proud, independent nation with a distinct sense of our own values and traditions, many of which are very sharply different and, in some cases, contradictory to America’s.
It took the President a very long time to force his way through Westminster Hall after making his over-hyped speech. This was because each and every member of our political class wanted to talk to him or shake his hand. It was like teenagers surrounding a pop star, but with very much less excuse: grown men and women, with a long record in public life behind them, abandoned all judgment and propriety.
The face of John Bercow as Obama spoke was a picture: like many other members of the audience (apart from Ken Clarke, who fell asleep) he appeared to be undergoing a profound, mystical experience.
Many people will have seen the photographs of Obama in the Cabinet room. The President is the only one standing up. Those seated around him are grinning sycophantically: a collective act of naked power worship. Lord Acton famously remarked that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and looking at those pictures one can understand exactly what the great historian was talking about.