Gordon Brown and Barack Obama at #10 last July. Getty Images
The same Obama who ridiculed Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago for closing schools due to ice cancelled a press conference today with Prime Minister Gordon Brown “because of snow.”
Toby Harnden, U.S. editor for the UK’s Telegraph, is more than a little sarcastic in reporting the non-event:
By 8pm, the press conference - if there'd ever been one planned - was officially off. The White House press schedule stated: "There will be a pool spray of the meeting." In layman's language, that means a small collection of reporters and perhaps two or three quick questions. That means something very quick and ample opportunity to dodge anything difficult.
As Ben Brogan of the Mail puts it, this is "not the standing podium-to-podium with the Messiah image that Mr Brown imagined". Trying to spin as best they can, the British Embassy is describing it as a "press availability" while Downing Street officials are apparently saying that "we are still negotiating".
Brogan quotes one Number 10 apparatchik as saying: "We're trying for something a bit more intimate but there won't be flags and podiums. We were going to do one in the Rose Garden but with the weather. They will be together and they will take questions."
Mr. Harnden continues:
The notion that there would ever have been a press conference scheduled in the Rose Garden at the start of March is, of course, faintly ridiculous.
Mr Brown might be forgiven for thinking that his friend, rival and predecessor Tony Blair would not have been treated the same way by his bosom buddy President George W. Bush. After all, there are 132 rooms in the White House at least some of which, presumably, are currently be free of snow.
On the other hand, President Obama is terribly busy this Tuesday. The White House schedule tells us that he is delivering remarks at the Department of Transportation to deliver remarks about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is also speaking at the Department of Interior to mark its 160th anniversary.
There's a conflab with Pentagon chief Bob Gates. Oh, and Mr Obama will also meet "a delegation from the Boy Scouts of America and receive their 2008 Report to the Nation". in the Oval Office.
And here’s Mr. Harnden’s painful conclusion:
Mr. Brown might lament that despite the so-called "special relationship" Britain is now getting the same treatment as the President of Uruguay but he need not despair. I'm told there's a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening.
Ya think dissing the prime minister didn’t have anything to do with the weather after all? And get this: Brown is the first European leader to meet the new president.