Sunday, May 29, 2011

After the US State Visit

The basic take: British pols are still in thrall to Obama, but the public is wary. I made a great effort last week to get a read on public opinion of Obama. Mind, I am an experienced expat and did not go around asking direct questions to any Brits, save M&M. I have long since learned to be a shameless eavesdropper.  I have learned how to ask leading, suggestive questions that don't mention the topic I really want to discuss. During the US election and the previous Obama visit, getting a read on public opinion on Obama this way was easy.  

This time, there was complete British silence. The only people to mention the visit were Americans, and only two of them at that. Yasha suggests two reasons for this. One, people no longer trust Obama. The Guardian article I posted on last week is probably an overly optimistic version of this. The Guardian is a leftist paper whose readers want to trust Obama.  Non-leftists, however, aren't so invested in trusting Obama and gave up on him a while back.  (Time Traveller says the Nobel Prize did it for him, and I think that might have been a pivot point for Brits.)  Two, the UK has her own problems and while the rest of the world does pay attention to US politics, they pay less attention than the American press would have us believe. They will pay more attention during the election.

British pols and press, however, are another story.  Are they really that gullible? George Bush gives Tony Blair a nickname and pals around a bit after they had spent years in the political trenches getting shelled for the Iraq War, and that makes him a strangled poodle on a short leash and prompts sneers about a "special relationship."  Obama and Cameron high five after a photo op ping-pong match in an unveiled attempt to look like best mates after three years of frosty and ham-handed diplomatic exchanges, and the pols and press believe it indicates some genuine bond?!  

The only pol not fooled was Liam Fox, the UK Defence Secretary.  While Obama was hanging out at the Palace and in No 10's rose garden, Fox was in the states.  (h/t Conservative Home) The Mail wrote: 
As the President prepared for talks with Cameron and Cabinet Ministers on Wednesday, Fox was about to jet off to the States.

One bemused No 10 source says: ‘He didn’t go to any of the main meetings with Obama. 
'One of the advantages of going to Washington is to see the key players. But the key player, the President, was here.’

That "key player", the one who devastated the Middle East peace process then headed out of town while Netanyahu gave a powerful speech to Congress?  The one who has acted decisively on Libya?  The one that rumors suggest had to be dragged into the OBL raid?  Perhaps Mr. Fox knows something about the "key player" that others don't, like perhaps he isn't really all that "key."  

For my American friends, Mr. Fox is the man who has battled with Cameron over the defence cuts.  

UPDATE October 2011: He was soon after forced out on a trumped up scandal about him using government funds to entertain a—whisper-whisper this is the real scandal—secret gay lover. I'm with this guy
David Pasley, a Tory councillor in Mr Fox's North Somerset constituency, described the MP as "hard working" and "diligent", and said he was "deeply saddened" by Friday's events.
But he added: "He's someone who you can't keep down.
"He has got such experience in his political career that I'm sure it will just be a question of time before he's back, and I hope he's back very soon in a high profile position."
One can hope.

1 comment:

M said...

Most of us know that the bond wasn't genuine. However, being pally with America seems to key to our foreign policy, hence the press love-in.