The British press headlines are screaming 'Obama's boot on the throat of the British pensioner', while the US President is referring, scathingly, to 'British Petroleum' - not 'BP' - as the monster polluter in the Gulf of Mexico.
An increasingly hysterical tone is quite deliberately infusing the US administration’s targeting of the Foreign Offender.
Are we terrified? No, we are not. Are we ashamed? No, we accept (as BP has), a degree of responsibility. What we are, already, is a bit embarrassed for President Obama. He has disappointed us. In British terms, this is a dire judgement.
Let us leave aside for a moment the logical counter arguments about free trade, global and collective responsibility, the special relationship, and the collusion of political and regulatory powers down the ages.
Let us hold on to, but not yet wield, the questionable environmental record of BP, along with those of all other oil majors globally. Let us also stand back from cheap and easy yaa-boo hits – Kraft, Union Carbide, Exxon Valdez and many others. (And we will not, of course, mention that War.)
Barrack Obama’s childish polemic is important for this reason: it has revealed to the wider world a personal, and perhaps national flaw that until now many were not prepared to admit. Globally, he has been broadly welcomed as the man capable of redeeming the tarnished image of the US after the George Bush Jnr years.
He is smart, straight-talking and energetic.Until this moment, we all thought the US had produced a world class statesman, someone who fully grasped not only his important domestic agenda, but the international one as well. A truly, gloriously, global American, the very best of that nation.
But we find instead, under pressure (and not yet very much of it), a default to a disturbingly parochial mindset. The Gulf is indeed a major disaster in so many ways, but playing out a neo-protectionist role for a limited audience at home is an intellectually poor, politically dishonest response.
The British are used to being derided, mocked and scorned. We make a virtue of our ability to take it. We bounce back, we learn, absorb, adapt. President Obama has just a few more low hits to make before we start gathering more friends from his bad manners than he is making with his invective.
Soon, even the French, another one-time target of America’s failing – its bouts of public parochialism -- will be standing shoulder to shoulder with us. Already, again, US businessmen in London are starting any encounter with apologies for the antics of their president. What a pity.
BP - the American failing
Caring for children and elderly relatives
Similar to June 2007
Square Mile’s series of informal interviews
Fine reduced to £60,000
Two roles created