Monday, 7 June 2010

Obama's foreign relations: Woe instead of Woo

Kyle Smith on Obama, BP and Britain:
Obama “resembles a judge who, having sentenced a penitent offender, demands again and again that he be brought up from the cells to receive another dressing down for the same crime,” wrote Glover, adding, “It is pretty clear that Mr. Obama does not much like anything that is British.”
Nevertheless, to make the boss look like he’s in charge, his administration keeps threatening BP with thuggish language (“We will keep our boot on their neck”) and made public a criminal probe — something the Justice Department doesn’t normally do until it actually files charges.
“If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Tough guy. But look at his mild comments about the Times Square bomber on “Meet the Press,” where Holder never expressed even the mildest rebuke of the terrorist: “Well, you know, the evidence develops, and I think we have to always try to be careful to make sure that the statements that we make are consistent with the evidence that we have developed,” he said, adding that his people were going “to try to understand what is it that took him over the edge and that converted him from being a person who seemingly was an average American to somebody who was bound and determined to kill Americans.”
So when it comes to terrorists, understanding is the main goal. With corporations, it’s punishment.
Why announce a criminal case that may result in no charges, or minor ones? Holder’s little hissy fit helped knock $18 billion off the market value of BP stock. (Exxon spent $4.3 billion on the Valdez cleanup and litigation.) Holder also spooked other oil stocks, which dragged down the Dow Jones average with them.
Even if you think being buried headfirst in an oil well is too good for BP execs, every time Obama lashes out at them, he’s knocking down innocents. BP is Britain’s largest company and the biggest holding in most British pension funds. About one-seventh of all the dividends paid out in the British equivalent of the Dow, the FTSE 100, came from BP. In Britain’s The Independent, a left-wing environmentalist newspaper, columnist Andreas Whittam Smith wrote, “BP has been trying to do the right thing,” “BP’s success is a national interest,” and “We don’t want to lose BP."

After Paul McCartney proved he lacks class and grace, The Telegraph picks up on the cooling towards Obama:
The White House's attempts to deal criticisms of Obama's detachment have been comical. First there was Obama's own cringeworthy (and doubtless bogus) anecdote about his 11-year-old daughter Malia asking: "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Then there was Gibbs illustrating Obama's passionate concern for the people of the Gulf by relating that he had said "damn" and exhibited a "clenched jaw".
Perhaps their biggest problem is that it was not just McCartney's dyed hair and 1960s songs that seemed so retro. His adulation of Obama struck the wrong chord because few outside the White House bubble are in that place any more. It is now permissible – even fashionable – to have a go at the man once hailed as the Messiah.

Even the simplest of foreign relations tasks proves too difficult for the White House to get right:
An official statement from the US foreign policy chief paid tribute to the "Queen’s life and legacy,” despite the fact that the Monarch does not celebrate her official birthday until next weekend.
The diplomatic faux pas, sent on behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people on Friday, also celebrated the "special relationship" between the British and US governments.

I guess we should just be thankful they even bothered to send the Queen birthday greetings.