Obama in London

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If there is a perfect metaphor for the way that Obama seems to giving Europe the vapors, it was the first question he got this morning from the famously ferocious British press corps: Do you believe there’s a special relationship between the United States and Britain? He might as well have been asked, “Do you love us–really, really love us?”

I couldn’t hear much of the traditional sidewalk news conference that Obama held as he emerged from a meeting at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who no doubt wishes some of the Democratic nominee’s popularity might rub off. (Today’s lead story in The Times is headlined: SHAPE UP IN 2 MONTHS OR GO, MINISTERS TELL BROWN.) From where I was sitting on the pavement with the traveling press corps, most of what Obama said was being drowned out by a crowd that had gathered several hundred yards away, on the other side of a security gate. It was chanting “O-ba-MA!” (Earlier, it had been “Yes we can”–sounding slightly unfamiliar in a British accent.)

Another British reporter asked Obama what advice he might give Brown in this difficult time, and the candidate had this to say (thanks to Maria Gavrilovic of CBS for transcribing her audio):

“I don’t have advice for Prime Minister Brown, I will tell you that you’re always more popular before you’re actually in charge of things (laughter) and then, and once you’re responsible, then you’re gonna make some people unhappy, and that’s just the nature of politics and, these things go in cycles. Even during the course of this campaign, there have been months where I’m a genius and there are months when I am an idiot, at least if you read the newspapers. It seems like I’m pretty much the same guy throughout this process but, you know, my actions and the results are gonna be perceived differently at any given time.”