The United Kingdom: Nothing Special to Obama Administration
By John D. Turner
17 Mar 2009

We are now less than two months into the administration of Barack Obama, the “new” kind of politician. The man who was supposed to transcend politics as we know it. The man who was elected to bring about “change.”

Well, change we have had, on pretty much every front imaginable. In fact, there has been so much change that it is getting hard to keep track of everything that is changing. Every day seems to bring something new and different. I don’t know about you, but I am not just starting to suffer from information overload; I have been in that state for what seems like years now. It almost seems like we are living in a virtual United States, which is reinvented daily and bears little resemblance to the America we lived in just two short months ago.

We have taken spending to new heights. The man who decried the spending of George W. Bush has now managed to overspend more in two months that Bush did in 8 years, with no end in sight. How will we pay for it? Tax the evil rich, defined as anyone with a wallet that still has money in it. Oh yes, and taxing evil carbon before it destroys the Earth. And everyone else that is doing anything we don’t like.

Good is bad and bad good. Our enemies are our friends now, and our friends are to be treated as enemies, or at least, equivalent. A member of our State department recently told a British reporter that there is nothing special about Great Britain; they are no different than any of the other 170 or so countries in the United Nations. No different than, say, Libya, or Cambodia, or Botswana. Quite aside from the counting problem[1], which Mr. Obama himself seemed to have during the elections[2], every president prior to the Obama administration, back at least to the turn of the last century, seemed to think there was some sort of special relationship.

Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, comes to the United States bearing gifts. Such gifts are always a special expression of the relationship between the two countries. What does Prime Minister Brown bring?

The British PM gifted Mr. Obama with an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet, a sister ship to the HMS Resolute. Those who have seen the movie classic National Treasure may recall that the desk in the Oval Office, known as the “Resolute desk”, was made from timbers from the HMS Resolute.

The HMS Resolute was part of a four ship squadron when she, along with another, became trapped in arctic ice for two years. Abandoned, the Resolute broke free the following year, was recovered by an American fishing vessel, and towed back to the US where she was refitted. In 1856 she was presented to Queen Victoria as a gesture of peace. She served in the British navy for another 23 years before being decommissioned and broken up, whereupon the British government arranged for a desk to be made from her timbers. It was presented to President Hayes in 1880. A plaque on the front of the desk proclaims:

H.M.S. RESOLUTE forming part of the expedition sent in search of SIR JOHN FRANKLIN IN 1852, was abandoned in latitude 74 degrees 41 minutes N longitude 101 degrees 22 minutes W on 15th May 1854. She was discovered and extricated in September 1855 in latitude 67 degrees N by Captain Buddington of the United States Whaler GEORGE HENRY. The ship was purchased, fitted out and sent to England as a gift to HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA by the PRESIDENT AND PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES as a token of goodwill & friendship. This table was made from her timbers when she was broken up, and is presented by the QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES as a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the RESOLUTE.
It is not out of line to suggest that the Resolute desk has come to symbolize the special relationship that exists between the United States and Great Britain. In addition to the pen, Mr. Brown also presented the President with a framed commission for HMS Resolute, to go along with the desk, and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

Not insignificant gifts.

Additionally, gifts were presented to the Obama children; outfits from Topshop, a high-end fashion boutique, and six children’s books by British authors, not yet been released in the United States. (Kind of like getting that advanced copy of the latest Harry Potter book, like in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”)

Funny I should mention movies. Because that’s what our illustrious President gave Mr. Brown in return. 25 DVDs of “classic American movies”, a gift described in the British press (who very much feel their PM was dissed) as being “about as exciting as a pair of socks.” The Brown’s kids got two models of the Presidential helicopter Marine One.

Now that’s what I call thoughtful gifts. I wonder if anyone told the President that DVDs made here in America don’t work in DVD players made in Europe.

And to add insult (or further insult) to injury, Mr. Obama gave Mr. Brown a bust of Winston Churchill. This wouldn’t in and of itself have necessarily been a problem, except that this particular bust was given to President Bush after 9/11 as a gesture of solidarity between us and the British people.

Obama probably saw this as simply a continuation of his evident policy of removing anything and everything Bush from his administration. The Brits saw it as a signal that President Obama does not value his relationship with Mr. Brown as highly as President Bush valued his relationship with Mr. Blair, the former British PM.

To cement the gaffe, when interviewed by a reporter from the Sunday Telegraph, a State Department official involved in planning the visit was reported to have said “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

Or was it a gaffe? Sometimes it is interesting to see what the liberal pundits have to say about the same event. There is a very human tendency for people to assume that others think as they do and view the world the same way as well. In fact, different people look at things differently. For some, very differently. Here is what “The Hill’s Pundit Blog” had to say about the very same event. Yes Virginia, there are those in this country that see things differently than we do. Very differently. Interestingly, what the Pundit Blog said was essentially the same thing the State Department official said.

Heads up boys, there’s a new sheriff in town.

So is this now where we are as a country? Dissing our closest ally in the world? While at the same time we are financing the rebuilding of Gaza (read cozying up to Hamas – which is the elected government of the Palestinian Authority after all), removing the trade barriers to Cuba, sucking up to/begging for dollars from China, “resetting” or should I say “overloading” our relationship with Russia, and attempting to climb into bed with Syria (and by extension, Hezbollah). What are we thinking?

Well, maybe what appears to those of us on the right to be gaffe’s, mistakes, and ineptitude are anything but. What if what we are seeing is in reality a massive reorientation of U.S. position in the world? What if what we are seeing is really a concerted effort to separate ourselves from our traditional allies, the abandonment (and possible destruction of Israel), and the embracing of those that we have in the past seen as enemies, adversaries, and anti-American now as friendly kindred spirits?

Perhaps we don’t have to be worried in the future about being subsumed by China. Maybe we have already agreed to cede our crown to them, on the condition that we get a nice golden parachute, and can continue, at home at least, to pretend that the world revolves around us.

Keep in mind that the people running things now are the same folks who think that the US is the biggest problem in the world, that the main reason the terrorists don’t like us is that we support Israel, and all the world’s problems can be solved by a judicious application of cash and a good heart to heart talk.

[1] The number of countries in the world varies depending on whom you ask. According to, there are 189, 191,192, 193, 194, or 195. The UN has 192 member nations. The U.S. State Department recognizes 194. In any event, there are more than 170 “or so”. Of course, that depends on what the exact meaning of “or so” is, I suppose. Then again, this is in keeping with the general attitude of laziness and inexactitude typical in our country, and our school systems these days.

[2] During the campaign, Mr. Obama was quoted as having visited most of the 57 states. Guess he wasn’t on his teleprompter that time.