Despite what Kermit the Frog once sang, it's actually not easy being...Brown.
As in Gordon Brown, the British prime minister.
Last month, Brown got pretty much completely kicked around on his three continent tour in anticipation of thd G-20 economic summit. President Obama not only didn't give him the usual honor of a two-flag press conference, but his official gift to the British prime minister was only 25 "classic" American DVDs -- which didn't work in UK players.
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In France, the seeing-impaired Brown was mocked by one of Nicholas Sarkozy's minions because of his difficulty in eating the dip-and-munch fondue prepared by Sarkozy's model first lady, Carla Bruni. Finally, in South America, Brazil's socialist President Luiz Inacio "Lula" Da Silva used his dual press conference to blame the economic meltdown on "white bankers with blue eyes."
Brown must have thought that things might go better back in London. After all, he's hosting the G-20 summit this time, officially kicking off Thursday morning. Still, given the thousands of protesters, it looks like even at home, the rather unpopular Brown is finding his thunder stolen.
Even in the best of circumstances, US presidents, because of the country's economic power, tend to become the Big Dog at these summits. This year, however, it's even worse because of the novelty of Obama -- who is showing up like a rock star (including nearly 600-member entourage, 200 Secret Service officers alone).
In a day and a half, Obama has managed camera-stealing events with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and an audience with Queen Elizabeth (more of which, below). Heck, Obama will even visit Brown's hated Conservative Party rival (and likely next prime minister) David Cameron.
Gordon Brown? Hardly anywhere to be found.
Such is the fate of someone who succeeds a charismatic and profoundly eloquent Tony Blair. Precisely because of his eloquence, Blair was able to be seen as an equal partner (for good or ill) with Bush when it came to both Iraq and the broader War on Terror. Heck, even Americans thought Blair did a better job explaining the Iraq mission than did Bush. Alas, by the time Blair left office in 2006, the British public -- never exactly thrilled with the Iraq War -- had completely turned against it. And Brown was left holding the bag. Shortly thereafter, like in the US, the economy also began to sour.
And, Brown is left trying to repair the economy before facing the voters sometime next year -- in an election that nearly everyone expects him to lose. And, here he is, this week, feeling like an unpopular guest at his own party.
One last thing: Will someone please get President Obama a real social secretary? After the fiasco of the DVDs to Brown, one would think that a thinking person at the White House might realize that a video I-Pod might not be the best gift to give the Queen of England. At least it was balanced this time with a far-more appropriate and unique gift -- a signed Richard Rodgers songbook. So, for his audience with the queen, Obama is batting .500 in terms of gifts. Throw in the Brown gift though, and the average drops to .333. Maybe he can just pass that off as spring training, in which case it doesn't count.