Last week I predicted that the fashionable British journalist looking for ways to belittle the Brown Obama meeting would use some fairly predictable techniques to do just that, and longtime commenter Newmania added another example.
I’m glad to say that Rachel Sylvester has repaid my faith in modern journalism in full by employing all of these techniques. Well done Rachel, you are clearly at the beating heart of today’s conventional wisdom. Hon mentions in each category to other hacks how have employed the same techniques.
The snide comparison.
ME: “The young, glamourous Obama and the grizzled, careworn Brown made odd companions yesterday as they…”
Rachel Sylvester, The Times: Privately, though, even Mr Brown’s own aides admit there is a danger that the trip will simply reinforce his weaknesses – that he will look wooden next to the more charismatic man, and that his address to Congress will highlight his inability to communicate with the voters at home.
The implication of desperation:
Me “Team Brown knew that they would be judged on whether they got to see Obama first, so the British diplomacy was focused on getting that crucial meeting, a move which some say frustrated Obama’s team, “We’ve got this huge crisis on, and all Brown’s people wanted to know was when we were going to meet. In the end we just gave in” said one source in my head.”
Rachel Sylvester: Gordon Brown is in Washington today to touch the hem of Barack Obama’s cloak. Like the bleeding woman healed by Jesus, so the man hemorrhaging political support hopes to be saved by this modern Messiah…
Hon mention, Toby Harnden, Telegraph US editor: Of course, Britain should want to be a pre-eminent ally of the United States. But do we need to be quite so crawlingly needy and obvious about it? The way the British government craves approval from President Barack Obama is humiliating, and very probably counter-productive.
The hint at hidden tensions
ME: “While it was all smiles and glad handing in the rose garden, It’s clear that Obama is becoming increasingly frustrated with what some American commentators are calling grandstanding by the British Prime Minister. Said one prominent insider I’ll phone later “Gordon Brown had ten years to fix this, so what he thinks he can tell Obama’s team I don’t know”.
Rachel Sylvester: “He may in fact end up looking like a terrier yapping at the heels of the more powerful man. Although No10 likes to say that Britain and America are “on the same page” when it comes to tackling the recession, the size of the print is rather different… …When the Prime Minister talks of brokering a “grand bargain” under which Europe would stump up more cash and America relinquish protectionism, he risks looking either irritating – or, worse, irrelevant.”
Hon Mention, Nick Robinson: His policy objective is to secure President Obama’s engagement in developing what he’s dubbed “a global new deal” to combat the threat of depression. So far, his officials say, the new team at the White House has been too busy developing domestic policy to worry much about British ideas for an international economic plan to be unveiled at the London meeting of world leaders in April.
The wrong focus?
Newmania: Brown is busy prancing about being a big international star when we need some jobs and lower tax here
Rachel Sylvester: The real danger for Mr Brown is that he is seen to be grandstanding abroad while people here are losing their jobs and homes.
Oh, and of course, the one I missed: the focus on the utterly irrelvant but important to journalists… in this case the precise location, length and extent of any Brown-Obama press conference, which subject is currently on the front pages of the Times website.
Get over yourselves, dudes.