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Thanks for letting us in on the joke, but why now?

This story has been quite widely reported in the British press:

‘Special relationship’ was seen as a joke by US diplomats, claims former Presidential adviser: Aide also admits slipping Malvinas references into press conferences in bid to ‘spoil it’

Barack Obama and his aides regarded the idea of a special relationship between Britain and the US as a joke, it was claimed last night.

Jeremy Shapiro, a former presidential adviser, said the special relationship was ‘unrequited’ and he revealed he would insert references to ‘the Malvinas’ – Argentina’s name for the Falklands – into Press conferences.

He must have been cross when Obama couldn’t even get that right.

This story is not so much news as confirmation of what everybody had guessed anyway. The interesting question for me is why admit it now? Shapiro was speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. That’s nice and all, but is impressing that audience enough to make it worth losing your reputation for discretion, which ought to still matter to someone who now works at the European Council on Foreign Relations?

Mr Shapiro is following in the footsteps of Obama’s former political strategist David Axelrod, who admitted in 2015 that Obama’s 2008 change from supporting to opposing gay marriage was completely cynical:

Axelrod: Obama Misled Nation When He Opposed Gay Marriage In 2008

Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even as Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. “Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,'” Axelrod writes.

Safely in power, and needing to appeal to rich white donors rather than poor black voters, Obama modified his position right back again two years later. Anyone who had observed the timing of Obama’s switches as related to the US electoral cycle will scarcely be bowled over by Axelrod’s revelation. What is still unrevealed is was the benefit to Axelrod in finally saying this?

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44 comments to Thanks for letting us in on the joke, but why now?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    No ‘special’ relationship? Should Britain immediately expel all US air bases? Or did he mean that Britain had grown up and was no longer to be given ‘special’, ie, retarded, treatment?

  • JS

    It suspiciously sounds like the sort of thing that remainers would like to hear, in that they think it undermines the idea of Britain making its own way in the world. Of course, Obama shot his mouth off during the referendum campaign, albeit counter-productively. Whether Shapiro cares enough to carry on trying to undermine Brexit is a whole different matter.

    On the other hand, I don’t think one can underestimate how tempting it can be for someone to show off their inside knowledge. Maybe he just got carried away in what he would probably think of as a little backwoods event.

  • Alisa

    JS, as the kids say these days on the interwebz: ‘why not both?’

    That as regards Shapiro – Axelrod is a different kind of case, I think.

  • bobby b

    I remember author Dinesh D’Souza along with Newt Gingrich talking about how Obama held a deep Kenyan-centric anti-colonial anti-English viewpoint as a result of his upbringing.

    I remember how they were ridiculed by all, left and right, for making such a claim.

    And I see that their claim still manages to work, giving a reasonable explanation for Obama’s many otherwise unexplainable acts and statements towards GB and the USA.

  • Alisa

    Didn’t D’Souza get this from Obama’s autobiography?

  • Chip

    On one hand I’m amazed that so many foolish juveniles and their silly ideologies were able to reach the White House and play at government for eight years.

    On the other, it’s impressive how resilient the US system is to such idiocy. When Obama promised to stop the seas from rising, the states ignored him and pursued fracking and generated over $3 trillion of new wealth. while Obama was stirring racial tensions, and sneered at clingers, Americans bought a record number of guns. While the Democrats abused the IRS and NSA to punish their opposition, voters quietly elected an unprecedented number of republicans at the local and state level.

    And of course there was the ultimate FU when they elected Trump who is increasingly looking like a shoo-in for reelection.

  • Bruce

    What is even scarier, is that a sufficiently large proportion of the population connected their two functioning neurons and a stray synapse together, for just long enough to make their “mark” at the ballot-box, not once, but TWICE, for the Obamination;. REALLY scary thought, that.

  • Eric

    Based on what he’s said since 2008, John McCain is downright scary. Obama was definitely below average as a US president, but the Republicans created the space for him to get elected.

  • Jacob

    Obama was more anti-American than anti-British.

  • bobby b

    “Obama was more anti-American than anti-British.”

    Obama is anti-power. He dislikes countries in proportion to how much power they wield (or have wielded in the past) over humanity, because he hates how the world has turned out. This presents as racism on his part, but I think that’s an oversimplification – power has historically been held by white people, so his ire tends to be aimed at countries that are majority-white.

    His solutions for how the world has turned out are laughable, however. He’s the anti-Rand.

  • bobby b, October 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

    “Obama was more anti-American than anti-British.”

    Obama is anti-power.

    He didn’t seem that ‘anti’ the Iranians having nuclear power. Nor was he ‘anti’ himself having the power of a US president.

    I think it far too kind to him to suggest he was anti-power. I instead favour the ‘Chicago way’ interpretation: he was against power that could restrain his power. This too could sometimes ‘present as racism on his part’. In addition, as bobby suggests, he had left-wing opinions about how the world works that involved him in problems, and losses of international power and status to the US, that he did not foresee.

    That there was, in addition, some actual racism, or perhaps prejudice would be a better word, of the kind worth mentioning mainly in the sense that he would have called ‘racism’ on a far lesser degree of it in reverse, seems the case to me, FWIW.

  • but is impressing that audience enough to make it worth losing your reputation for discretion,

    AFAIK, no higher motive for Ben they-literally-know-nothing Rhodes’ indiscretions has emerged. However, as JS (October 11, 2017 at 12:38 am) has noted,

    which ought to still matter to someone who now works at the European Council on Foreign Relations?

    may hint at what could pass for a calculation in the mind of an intellectual without intellect. That Obama is now gone, his place taken by Trump, is the kind of thing one notices if one is not an intellectual but has an intellect, and a reason this indiscretion, even if calculated, may turn ‘not necessarily to remoaner advantage’. Thanks in large part to his admirers, here as well as in the states, I think Obama stands for the US left, not for the US, in the minds of ordinary British people, and they have long known, and disliked, his dislike of them.

  • What was the benefit to Axelrod in finally saying this?

    One could construct some practical argument, e.g. that this “Ah never lah’d in ma heart” declaration was needed for his street cred in some part of the ever-more-fanatical left. However I don’t think that’s it.

    Those on the left identify (the word is here used most appropriately) as cleverer than us – also as more caring and simply better in ever way, but above all as cleverer. Their temptation to boast about it – to demonstrate it (not least to themselves) – is ever present and tyrannously strong.

  • jmcc

    Look at Shapiros resume. He is a nothing in the Foggy Bottom pecking order. There are literally thousands of people with resumes just like his at any given time. I’d put him at about the same level of insiders knowledge as a shoeshine boy outside the Truman Building on C Street. My guess is that like the vast majority of “presidential advisers” not a single word of Shapiros analysis would have been read by the President, let alone Shapiro being in the same room as the president during any substantive policy meetings.

    So just another of the many tens of thousands of DC hucksters pretending to be more important than they actually are.

    It looks suspiciously like he is basically some software guy from MIT who via RAND spoofed his way into a very lucrative “international relations” gig. Almost all his published work is regarding France so obviously someone more likely to take the Quai d’Orsay’s side in just how special the “Special Relationship” is. The French have been rubbishing it for many decades. Basically since WW2.

    In the real world, not the world of academic international relations think tanks, if you are one of the Five Eyes nations you have a very special relationship with the US. End of story. No matter what bozos are in the White House and State at any given time.

  • Rob

    “Modifying his position” – another modern euphemism for lying.

  • Paul Marks

    Barack Obama always hated the United Kingdom as, historically, a “capitalist” and “Imperialist” (as in Lenin’s discredited “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” economic theory) power.

    What I found astonishing is how much British people loved someone, Barack Obama, who hated them. Both “liberals” such as the Economist magazine, and “Conservatives” (most Conservative Party Members of Parliament) seemed to be in love with Barack Obama – a man who, in his ideal world (i.e. if his power had not been limited), would have had them all sent to death camps.

    British book shops (and supermarkets that sell books) contain no real conservative books on the United States at all – just leftist books, only leftist books. And all British television stations (Sky News – not just the BBC and so on) are on the left. This means that the public view of the United States, and much else, is totally distorted in Britain.

    The British people do not know who their real friends are in the United States – and who their enemies are in the United States.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    October 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

    “I think it far too kind to him to suggest he was anti-power. I instead favour the ‘Chicago way’ interpretation: he was against power that could restrain his power.”

    Yes, I could buy into this theory, too. As for Iran, it has always been an outsider in the global village, without power except the power of an armed thug, so that, in his way of thinking, he was still helping the underdog against the established powers-that-be – again, the white empire, basically.

    Funny thing is, for someone so enamored of power who held a powerful post for eight years, he exercised it only rarely, and ineptly when he did. His legacy consists of wreaking havoc on medical coverage, and . . . a lot of small stuff either already cancelled or in queue to be cancelled. Whether he was anti-power-in-other-hands, or anti-interference-with-his-power, thankfully he sucked at it.

    “Thanks in large part to his admirers, here as well as in the states, I think Obama stands for the US left, not for the US, in the minds of ordinary British people, and they have long known, and disliked, his dislike of them.”

    I hope that they also know that the majority of the USA disliked that dislike also, and consider the special relationship to simply . . . be.

  • Common as Muck

    I recall someone who was part of the White House in the Obama era saying the man always gave the impression of being bored by the job of actually being president. However he loved the election process and would put his effort into winning votes. (Interestingly, his attempts at boosting Hillary into winning votes was, in the end, somewhat off target. Deliberate? Hmmm…) Winning, not doing, was the aim.

    Either this source or another one alleged that Obama only became animated and involved when discussing sports. The rest of the time he was pretty much disinterested in things.

    As for Obama not thinking much of Britain and any ‘special relationship’ I am always amazed no one spotted this back in 2008. To me it was obvious he had little time for us over here and his subsequent attempts to interfere in our decisions always reflected other people’s interests, not ours.

  • I hope that they also know that the majority of the USA disliked that dislike also, and consider the special relationship to simply . . . be. (bobby b, October 11, 2017 at 10:54 am)

    I offer the following anecdote FWIW.

    – Background: as an experiment, I watched back-to-back the BBC and ITV 10pm coverage of Trump’s inauguration day. (ITV is the oldest commercial UK channel – long ago it was BBC’s only rival here.) From my youth until after the sacking of Greg Dyke, the beeb always outdid its rival in politically-correct spinning of the news. However I noticed recently that they had swapped places and watched the coverage to confirm it. While the ITV coverage was relentlessly negative in every single detail, the BBC’s (99% or not much less) concurrence was nevertheless punctuated with occasional qualifications. They sort-of conceded that Trump might be better in trading with us.

    – The anecdote: when the beeb interviewed a few ‘ordinary Britons’, the few of the few who sounded genuinely ordinary did not attempt to defend Trump personally – well aware that the BBC interviewer would pointedly drop his jaw if they tried – but did take an explicitly ‘probably not bad for us’ attitude and radiated a ‘no need for hysteria’ attitude.

    (To avoid any possible confusion, I will take the liberty of reminding US readers that ‘not bad’ in the UK is quite a positive way of putting things. 🙂 )

  • Cesare

    Silly voter, it’s not ‘deception’ when they do it in the cause of Socialism. With that kind of an attitude pretty soon you may imagine yourselves to be citizens or something. Sheesh.

  • Fraser Orr

    Of course this goes two ways. Just when the British need a great trade deal with other countries, and especially the USA, they luck out and have the most pro-British president in a long time elected. And how do the British react? First the parliament insult him by indicating (before he even asked) that they wouldn’t let him speak there, second they cancel a visit, and now, I hear they have downgraded his visit next year to a “working visit” from a state visit.

    You might not like him much but his election was an amazing opportunity for Britain to really benefit from Brexit. But instead of reacting in a logical, reasonable manner, you all decided to be all pouty and emotional and bite that hand that could well feed you.

    What a very foolish choice. Say what you will about May but at least she had the sense to suck up to him a little. This tantrum is distinctly unbritish, lacking as it is both restraint, good manners and the cool calculating Machiavellian approach to foreign relations and foreign deals that Britain has always sought. And I fear it will be very costly to your future.

  • Chip

    Irrational? I’ll show you irrational. Polls show that Labour and Corbyn are the most popular political party in the U.K. today. A party that considers Hugo Chavez a role model.

    And the Conservatives are conservative in name only. People like May and Rudd reek of statism.

    How does a libertarian remain optimistic about Britain today?

  • you all decided to be all pouty and emotional and bite that hand that could well feed you

    I certainly don’t remember doing anything of the sort.

  • What I found astonishing is how much British people loved someone, Barack Obama, who hated them.

    Why’s this astonishing? The Brits who love him generally hate British people too.

  • Obama’s Iran deal was simply because he was desperate for a legacy, and breaking the deadlock in Iran-US relations seemed like a good candidate – regardless of the cost. The same is true for Cuba. If you want to know why Obama does something, first look at how it helps his ego.

  • Either this source or another one alleged that Obama only became animated and involved when discussing sports. The rest of the time he was pretty much disinterested in things. — Common as Muck

    It seems like we in the USA are living in a fable. For eight years, we had King Log. Now we have King Stork. Frankly, I like the stork better.

  • Alisa

    Niall, have you noticed that Axelrod said that in 2015?

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Fraser Orr.
    It’s the usual modern cursed virtue signalling and it’s crap for all the reasons you outlined.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Some good comments here, notably those by Chip and Paul Marks.

    My take is as follows. Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. His father was an anti-colonialist from Kenya. His mother was so alienated from her own heritage that she married 2 non-Western men, and divorced the 2nd because he held Western values. It’s worse than that: when Barack left the Pacific islands, it was to study at American universities! (Although those universities were not as anti-Western in his, or rather, our time, as they are today.)

    That British and European people hold a positive view of Obama, just goes to show how much they have lost touch with reality — at least when it comes to the rest of the world: in their own countries, they never elected anybody as post-modern as Obama; although Zapatero and Tsipras, maybe a few others, come close.

    American “conservatives” also have lost touch with reality, to the extent that they think that Obama wanted to make the USA “more like Europe”.

  • Laird

    “So just another of the many tens of thousands of DC hucksters pretending to be more important than they actually are.”

    I think that about nails it.

    D’Souza was absolutely correct about Obama’s hatred of colonialism in general and Britain in particular, which he got from his Kenyan father. His return of the Churchill bust from the Oval Office was a total embarrassment to us, and it showed just how petty, vindictive and thoughtless he was. We are well rid of him, and lucky that he wasn’t able to do more damage during that lost eight years.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Agreed, Laird. (Except for your word “thoughtless” — I think the return was anything but thoughtless. It gratified his ego, and showed his contempt for both of our countries. The idea was to lower the Brits’ and our own senses of self-worth, and to degrade the image of both of us in the world’s eyes.) 😡 .

    A marxist, a thug in spirit, a power-lover, a need for the adulation of the crowd, and a walking permanent identity crisis.

    And he did plenty of damage as it was. Remember the Health Fraud Act. Remember Hatchetface Twinkletoes (now Mare of The Glowing City by the Lake), Eric Holder’s “Justice” Dept., Obama’s Health Advisor, the so-called “bioethicist” [ !!!!! ] Dr. Zeke, on & on…. Remember also the general pro-Muslim attitudes, the refusal to lend so much as moral support to the Iranians who stood up for a new regime in 2009, the bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the endless global apologizing for the U.S.’s Evil Actions going clear back to before Hammurabi …:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/20/trump-shakes-hands-with-saudi-leader-doesnt-bow-as-obama-appeared-to-do.html

    From Fox News, on The Bow — he had to bow, being so much taller than the King, the WH explained — and more:

    [SNIP]

    Obama critics said the former president suggested several times in 2009, just after getting elected, that the United States owed the Arab world an apology.

    “There have been times when America has shown arrogance … even dismissiveness,” Obama said that year in France.

    [SNIP]

    .

    And I also think that while he badly wanted to be president (no capital “P” of respect here!), he wanted the office and the title, not the actual job. Too much like work.

  • Umbriel

    I think there’s a real backstage power struggle going on in the Democratic party right now. Under the distraction of everyone agreeing about the vileness of Trump, the major factions — Clintonite, Obama-ite, and Young Turk “Bernie Bros”, and who knows how many smaller power blocs — are currently jostling for position. Many old guard throats (Harvey Weinstein’s, for example) are being cut. We’re not yet seeing any new players rise to prominence, but a power vacuum likely has to be created before anyone moves to fill it. I don’t expect it to be settled prior to the 2018 Congressional campaigns. They’ll be an important round in the fight.

  • Alisa

    What Umbriel said, and there is a similar dynamic going on within the Republican party. Interesting times indeed.

    while he badly wanted to be president (no capital “P” of respect here!), he wanted the office and the title, not the actual job. Too much like work.

    My exact impression too. I am always reminded of that picture where he was “commanding” OBL’s capture from whatever room in the WH: his face literally said ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on’.

  • And I also think that while he badly wanted to be president (no capital “P” of respect here!), he wanted the office and the title, not the actual job

    In this respect he was merely much more gross than some other examples. There have been PMs and presidents who wanted to be rather than to do but Obama, bathed as he was in politically-correct flattery, never learned to make anything like the same effort at hiding it.

  • Alisa (October 11, 2017 at 7:13 pm): Niall, have you noticed that Axelrod said that in 2015?

    Though that wasn’t in my mind when I wrote my comment, 2015 would have been the year I ‘d have guessed as most likely.

    Firtsly, It was after the mid-terms, when his protege Obama faced no further elections.

    Secondly, it is also the year I think of as dating the second of two great PC swivels during my time on one of their pet issues. In the 70s and 80s, the mantra was “an equally valid lifestyle choice”, and to ask a question about any aspect of that made you evil. In the 90’s and 00s, the mantra was ” born that way”, and to suggest any kind of choice might ever be involved made you evil. Vigorous persecution of any researcher who found evidence of choice lasted past 2010, but in 2015 IIRC the mantra became ‘how you identify’, and suggesting anyone might be born anything made you evil.

    I suspect that periods when the PC story changes are periods where PC persecution becomes particularly intense, especially perhaps in-group persecution, to fix the new story, just as Winston Smith had to work extra long hours in the days after Oceania was suddenly always at war with Eastasia. Therefore 2015 is the year of any year when an Axelrod might be under pressure to prove his PC street creed.

    All the above said, I stand by my original analysis. The desire to show how clever they are is an ever present temptation to the PC. Hillary, like Obama, was a public flipper. Can it have helped her, with anyone not already predestined to vote for her – ah, sorry, I mean with anyone who did not already identify as ‘with her’ 🙂 – for Axelrod to provide his, “Yes, it was a calculated lie”, quote?

  • Jacob

    Obama met his biological father, the Kenyan, only once, briefly, when Obama was 10 and his father came for a visit, and stayed about a month in Hawaii. We don’t know how much of that month was spent with Obama Jr. (aged 10) and how much in other pursuits.

    All this Obama sentimentalism (and book) about his dear father and the father’s influence on him seems to me fake. Obama imbibed standard liberal-lefty-PC dogma from his dear mother and maternal grandparents (who raised him), and Harvard. His blackness (the color of his skin) and his African father were only artifacts or gimmicks for building up his political career. They (and the political craziness of the US) were the only reason he became President.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It seems to me that he imbibed “anti-colonialism” from the Marxism of his mother and grandparents, and probably of dear Frank Marshall Davis, and the general anti-Westernism (in theory, not in the practice of actually having nice things, lilfestyle, perks, etc.) from both the Islamic cultures he knew as a child and with and his Marxism. Remember, too, the Soviets were huge on cropdusting the “third world” with propaganda pesticides to keep down the noxious weeds of American and European anti-Communism = anti-Communist-imperialism and anti-Communist views generally. They had a huge inventory of anti-Western propaganda on offer there.

    I think there was a whole mellerdrammer there … black boy destined for Great Things learns to identify self as non-American and as a victim of Evil Imperialistic and Capitalistic American-British-Imperialism and Evil=”white”=Western outlooks generally.

    I doubt he was disabused of any of these notions by his time served in Hawai’i, nor at Occidental, Columbia, Harvard, and then in Chicago.

    He may have ended up favoring Muslims partly because of theirs was the chief culture he grew up in, and because they’re not Christians (no need to bow before Christian or Christian-derived outlooks, except as political objectives demand) or Jews (no need to bow, etc.). I strongly doubt he’s religiously a Muslim “in his heart,” nor yet a Christian (the execrable Trinity United career-building years notwithstanding: AFAICS, its chief effect must have been simply to reinforce anti-Americanism, and of course to be seen politically as one of The Right Sort): He’s a flaming Obamanist, is what he is.

    And yes, I think it obvious by his own words that he felt America needed to be taken down several pegs. Also Britain, also Israel, also the West generally. If he had a goal other than that of being a cross between Bruce Springsteen and President of the World, that was it.

    None of this stops him from having a Marxist outlook.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “He may have ended up favoring Muslims partly because of theirs was the chief culture he grew up in….”

    May have over-egged the pudding there, as WikiFootia implies he was in Indonesia only from age 6-10. This is certainly part of his “formative years,” but can’t really be called “the chief culture he grew up in [sic].”

  • Alisa

    In short, our previous President is well summarized here.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Why yes, Alisa, well put. :>))

  • Mr Ed

    Just one more thing. Oh heck, sorry. It’s not Columbo Day, is it?

  • Alisa

    😆 😆 😆

  • Ljh

    He looks a lot more like Frank Marshall Davis than Obama Snr, so maybe he has been channeling tales from that father.