The British Press Is Up in Arms Over “Obamagate”

Oh, do clutch the pearls, darlings. The Brits are in a right tizzy over President Barack Obama‘s perceived snub of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. So, the story goes, Brown was denied a customary press conference with flags during his U.S. visit and was forced into a rushed meet-and-greet in the Oval Office. To add insult to ignominious injury, Brown was scooted back to Britain with a box of DVDs as a consolation prize. How very dare you, Mr. President! Now, conspiracy theories are proliferating, notably one that has been vigorously promoted by the Drudge Report: Michelle Obama was the “Lady Macbeth” who orchestrated the horrible treatment of the PM. The Daily Telegraph‘s James Delingpole says:

At the moment in Britain, we’re still in the “Doesn’t she look fabulous in a designer frock” stage of understanding of Michelle Obama. Gradually, though, we’ll begin to realize that she is every bit the terrifying executive’s wife that Hillary Clinton was. Or, shudder, Cherie Blair.

We may just LURVE Michelle’s fashion sense. But Michelle doesn’t reciprocate our affection, one bit. Her broad-brush view of history associates Brits with the wicked white global hegemony responsible for the slave trade. Never mind that a white, Tory Englishman – William Wilberforce – brought the slave trade to an end. Judging by her record, Michelle does not make room for such subtle nuance.

Oh, dear. Where does one begin? Delingpole doesn’t even bother to make sense. But why miss an opportunity to push his agenda whilst exploiting easy racism and sexism, right?

The Daily Telegraph‘s Iain Martin says this whole affair is an example of Obama’s desperate grasping for the spotlight and that his acceptance of an invitation to tea with the Queen provides even more supporting evidence:

Something, suddenly, seems to have made the Obama White House perk up and start to take an interest in the Brits. The Queen has invited the President to tea when he’s here for the G20 in April. And he’s in through the front door of Buckingham Palace faster than a Harley Davidson roaring along Route 66.

Note how the coolness of Team Obama disappears when a bit of regal glamour is introduced into the equation. He might not like the Brits, but he can recognize a global superstar when he encounters one. He wants to be associated with her. He’s shameless.

Yes, the Obamas just loathe the UK, and these personal “slights” are all a great conspiracy to avenge British imperialism. Wow, that’s reaching. Can we ask these nattering old scolds to get their knickers out of a twist and focus on their country’s very real problems?

In other news:

  • Slumdog Millionaire fans may be interested in an audiobook of the film’s source material, the novel Q&A. Listen and compare to the movie.
  • Meet Valkyrie Beckham. (Daily Mail)
  • David Beckham will split the year playing for both Milan and Los Angeles.(Telegraph)
  • A new row’s brewing between Ashley and Cheryl Cole: was Ashley chatting up a hot blonde while Cheryl was scaling Kilimanjaro?(Daily Mail)
  • The Daily Telegraph‘s Kevin Garside says Ashley Cole has let down British football.
  • Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are among the 20 most powerful women in British thee-uh-taaah. Gillian Anderson is listed as an “honorary Brit” on the list.(Telegraph)
  • Dragons’ Den host Evan Davis has been named one of the 50 most powerful gay, lesbian, or bisexual people in British politics by Pink News.
  • Sydney Chaplin, son of legendary icon Charlie Chaplin, has died at age 82. The Tony-winning actor originated the role of Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl opposite Barbra Streisand on Broadway.(Variety)
  • Miley Cyrus is gonna unleash some Hannah Montana voodoo on Radiohead. She’s totally gonna shimmy in their faces.(Pitchfork)
  • On last night’s Leno, Sienna Miller revealed she was “kicked in the face by a horse” as a child, scarring her for life. No word on whether or not Sarah Jessica Parker will face charges.(Daily Mail)
  • The Daily Telegraph profiles Skins star Nicholas Hoult, who is about to star in his first West End play, New Boy. “It will be fun,” Hoult says. “And what’s the point of always going through life doing the same thing? Last time I did theater I enjoyed it.”
  • Ghost, the 1990 film starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, is set to become a West End musical.(The Stage)
  • Amy Winehouse has been charged with assault for allegedly attacking a female dancer at a charity event.(Guardian)
  • Look out, London: Amy Winehouse‘s about to hit the open road.(Digital Spy)
  • Comedian Bill Bailey (Black Books, Skins) has had his driver’s license suspended for speeding.(Chortle)
  • The drummer for Razorlight has reportedly quit the band.(The Sun)
  • Morrissey survived “interrogation” by immigration officials at the Atlanta airport.(Digital Spy)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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