Mar 15, 2009 20 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
After reading this, and considering the insult he showed Gordon Brown, I’d like two things from you in your comments:
1. of course your Obama-low-expectations idea(s) of what Obama would give the “titular” leader of the greatest friend and ally our nation has ever known in over 200 years … especially AFTER going to war with them to achieve our freedom and independence from them.
2. what gift you believe worthy of the “titular” leader of the greatest friend and ally our nation has ever known in over 200 years … especially AFTER going to war with them to achieve our freedom and independence from them.
Barack Obama’s aides admit errors are making him less popular
Senior aides of US President Barack Obama privately admit that a series of presentational errors have contributed to falling popularity with voters and pundits alike.
By Tim Shipman
His staff are being warned to get a firmer grip now he has passed the 50-day mark in the White House, and prevent a repeat of the mistakes that marred the last seven weeks.
A White House official last week passed details to The Sunday Telegraph of Mr Obama’s desire to avoid a repeat of such errors as the inept handling of Gordon Brown’s recent visit to Washington.
The concession came as allies of Mr Obama have begun breaking cover to question his performance and leadership on the economic meltdown and public diplomacy.
A new poll revealed that the president’s personal approval ratings have slumped to levels below those of George W. Bush at the same stage of his first term, undermining the common assumption that Mr Obama is enjoying unusual levels of public popularity. The Rasmussen survey found that Mr Obama enjoys the confidence of just 56 per cent of voters, with 43 per cent who do not have confidence and a third strongly disapproving of his early performance.
Mr Obama has now told his staff to learn from the errors made during Mr Brown’s visit and to ensure that the protocol is observed when he meets the Queen later this month.
Administration officials have been warned to be better prepared for the high profile series of international meetings over the next few weeks, during which Mr Obama will travel to Europe for the G20 meeting in London, roll out a new strategy for Afghanistan at a Nato summit and make his first appearance in a Muslim nation – Turkey.
A source close to Mr Obama’s top team telephoned this newspaper last week to say that White House officials now regard it as “a mistake” to have returned the bust of Winston Churchill that the British government loaned George W. Bush – a story first reported by The Sunday Telegraph – and then to have sent the prime minister home with a gift of 25 DVDs after his visit to Washington.
“Clearly it was a mistake, and they want people to know that they know that,” the source said. “There is a collective desire to learn from the experience. They pride themselves on attention to detail. They didn’t have their eye on the ball… they all know they’ve got to do better.”
Mr Obama is due to call at Buckingham Palace shortly before the G20 meeting.
The source said: “The point was made that the protocol people need to be absolutely sure they are on top of everything to do with meeting the Queen and make sure that everyone knows what is expected. The Queen won’t be getting any DVDs.”
The admission came as Mr Obama faced and upsurge of criticism from influential and previously devout supporters among American commentators, halfway through what Mr Obama hopes will prove the most consequential first 100 days since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
So far he has had a radical economic stimulus approved by Congress, but faces accusations that he and his team, who regard themselves as great communicators, have made presentational errors.
The veteran Newsweek political columnist Howard Fineman, previously an enthusiastic cheerleader, delivered a withering verdict under the headline “The Turning Tide”, which concluded: “Obama still has the approval of the people, but the establishment is beginning to mumble that the president may not have what it takes.”
Camille Paglia, the feminist writer who was early and vocal Obama fan, said: “Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama’s first seven weeks in office.”
She denounced “the fiasco of the ham-handed White House reception for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown” and said that Mr Obama’s aides were a “posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes” who seemed like “dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship”. Ms Paglia added on Salon.com that Mr Obama “has been ill-served by his advisers and staff.”
Nile Gardiner, the foremost conservative expert on the special relationship in Washington, is gunning for the official at the state department who told The Sunday Telegraph last weekend that Britain deserved no special favours and was “just the same as the other 190 countries in the world”.
Dr Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, said: “The official’s highly insulting remarks were the most offensive comments directed against Britain by any U.S. representative in recent memory. There should be a full inquiry… and the Secretary of State should be prepared to offer an unreserved apology on behalf of the Obama Administration to the British people.”
But the criticism is not confined to conservatives. The billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a friend of Mr Obama, last week criticised the president’s determination to press ahead with expensive liberal pet projects like healthcare reforms when he should be devoting all everything to the economy.
“Job one is to win the war, the economic war. Job two is to win the economic war – and job three,” he said. “You can’t expect people to unite behind you if you’re trying to jam a whole bunch of things down their throat.”
Mark Steyn at NRO writes:
Terrific. Why not appoint Chris Dodd as Gift Czar?
I was at Hillsdale College last week, and one of the young ladies said this would have been a totally cheesy present if you’d been given it by your boyfriend. Yet the government of the world’s superpower thinks you need better “attention to detail” and an “eye on the ball” to ensure you don’t give discount DVDs of ET and Lawrence Of Arabia to the head of government of your closest ally (and principal military partner in Afghanistan), especially when he has deteriorating eyesight and doesn’t watch movies. That’s not a “detail” – unless you’re as narcissistically self-absorbed as the British now think the Obama crowd are.
Me: Yeah … Mark usually says what I’m thinking.