Barack in Britain: The Inconveniences of a State Visit and the Import of Its Outcome

Posted on May 26, 2011


State visits are months in the planning and hours of fussing over details and surprises during their unfolding in real-time.  First there is accommodating the vehicle of the visiting dignitary.  In the case of the President of the United States’ visit to London, “the beast” (Obama’s armored car) had to be parked by committee in front of #10 Downing Street, residence of the Prime Minister:

Not everything Michele Obama brought arrived safely.  Her diamonds got tangled:

Then there was the unfortunate business with the plant.  Barack averts his gaze  as the Queen bends to sign the guest book at the US Ambassador’s residence.

The President made the headlines while in London. He spoke over the national anthem in his toast.  He no doubt thought it was background or elevator music.

Barack Obama suffers royal toast mishap at Queen’s banquet

Barack Obama suffered an awkward moment during a banquet at Buckingham Palace last night when he broke royal protocol by speaking over the national anthem.

President Obama received a standing ovation of about a minute following his speech before both houses of Parliament.  It could be that he will have a better chance of passing his legislative agenda there.  Yes, he may run there for Prime Minister one day – the day they discover his original long form birth certificate from Kenya dating from the time of their days as a colony.  In the US, he is an open and shut case of wrong time, wrong colony.

President Obama’s visit to Ireland and Britain following so soon on the heels of the Queen’ s own visit to Ireland provides a stark contrast in diplomacy.  The aging Queen who has lived through the terms of  many US Presidents is someone from whom Obama can learn much.  She  has gone above and beyond in making him feel welcome regardless of the way in which he and Sarkozy dropped her from D-Day celebrations and Obama’s own lack of a bow the last time through.

Early on in  his presidency President Obama stated that Great Britain would be important but only one among many countries important to the US.  All hail the passage of time, that greatest of instructors and the return to the US and Britain’s special relationship this week.  Obama should be so lucky as to have had friends like those we have in London.

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