What a difference 18 months and an oil spill makes. In January 2009 Barack Obama was hugely popular on this side of the Atlantic, and could have walked on water in the eyes of the British media, the political elites, and the general public. In June 2010 however he probably qualifies as the most despised US president since Nixon among the British people. In fact you can’t open a London paper at this time without reading yet another fiery broadside against a leader who famously boasted of restoring “America’s standing” in the world.
When even Obama’s most ardent political supporters in Britain, including Boris Johnson, are on the offensive against the White House, you know the president’s halo has dramatically slipped. It’s hard to believe that any politician could become more disliked in the UK than Gordon Brown, but Barack Obama is achieving that in spades. And as Janet Daley noted of the British press, the love affair with Barack is well and truly over.
As I wrote previously, we are witnessing one of the worst exercises in public diplomacy by a US government in recent memory, one that could cause significant long-term damage to the incredibly important economic and political partnership between Great Britain and the United States. And for those who say this is minor storm in a tea cup, I would point out that it is highly unusual for a British Prime Minister to have to stand up to an onslaught against British interests by an American president, as David Cameron has just done. In fact the prospect of a major confrontation between Downing Street and the White House grows stronger by the day.
But this is not the whole picture. President Obama’s handling of BP is part of a far bigger problem. This is an administration that has consistently insulted Britain, and has even sided with her foes in some cases, most notably in its wholehearted support for Argentina’s call for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, a position that has been strongly backed by Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez. Time and time again, the Obama team has undercut America’s key allies, from London to Prague to Jerusalem, while kowtowing to the enemies of the United States in the name of engagement. It is a disastrous foreign policy that not only weakens American global power, but generates resentment and anger in nations that have traditionally stood shoulder to shoulder with America.
And even on CNN, the network that put Obama into office.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, it turns out that recovery is in the eye of the beholder. President Obama and Vice President Biden have kicked off a massive P.R. campaign, celebrating what they’re calling ‘recovery summer.’ They say the $860 billion economic stimulus bill is working. The White House says two and a half million jobs have been created, and that the number should reach three and a half million by the end of this year. They’re highlighting new jobs at thousands of infrastructure projects across the country.
But the celebration may be premature. Just yesterday, the Labor Department reported new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 12,000 last week- much sharper increase than was expected, and it shows that the pace of layoffs has not slowed appreciably. Plus, we still have a national unemployment hovering just below 10 percent. An editorial in the Washington Times, called ‘Obama’s Endless Summer of Spending,’ suggests the administration’s ‘make-work’ jobs program has failed, and that those infrastructure jobs, which are being funded by the taxpayers, will disappear when the stimulus money runs out- soon. Fact is the current recovery has been one of the worst for job creation ever.
Meanwhile, the picture in many of the 50 states is terrible and getting worse. State and local governments are cutting wherever they can, in order to meet their budgets, reducing or eliminating public services, underfunding state pension plans, and cutting 230,000 state and local government jobs in just the last couple of years.
Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is out with a dire warning that the U.S. may soon reach its borrowing limit if we don’t make some drastic changes and reduce our $13 trillion national debt. But President Obama wants billions more for stimulus spending. Somewhere, there appears to be a rather serious disconnect.