This afternoon Barack Obama welcomed the new British prime minister, David Cameron, to the White House, in a meeting the two men billed in a largely news-free press availability afterwards as a reaffirmation of the venerable US-UK “special relationship.” Neither man bit on questions about a possible investigation into BP’s role in the release of the Lybian Lockerbie bomber, and Obama talked loquatiously around a question about his plans for specific domestic budget cuts to cut the deficit. (Bottom line: wait for the deficit commission’s report.)
It was however interesting to hear Obama describe the deep budget cuts proposed by Cameron’s government as “courageous.” In other quarters those cuts have been described elsewhere as “needlessly draconian” and even “savage,” and run counter to the Keynsian stimulus theory to which Obama’s top economic advisors subscribe.
More superficially, I was going to observe that Obama and Cameron seem to have a remarkably easy rapport–they referred to one another by their first names, joked about warm British beer versus cold American brew, and Cameron even said he hoped his sons would emulate the tidiness of the Obama girls’ bedroom, which he glimpsed on a tour of the White House residence. But I’ll avoid reading too much into that on the good advice of Cameron himself, writing in today’s WSJ:
Finally, there are those who over-analyze the atmospherics around the relationship. They forensically compute the length of meetings; whether it’s a brush-by or a full bilateral; the number of mentions in a president’s speech; dissecting the location and grandeur of the final press conference—fretting even over whether you’re standing up or sitting down together. This sort of Kremlinology might have had its place in interpreting our relations with Moscow during the Cold War. It is absurd to apply it to our oldest and staunchest ally.
For more on the state of Cameron’s governing coalition back home, see Alex Massie’s analysis of a sour new poll that may mark the end of his honeymoon period.