Last week the Daily Mail reported that President and Mrs. Obama will not be among the 2,000 invited to Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, to attend the wedding of Prince William, the older son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. This news has caused the proverbial tempest in a teapot. How could this snub have come about?
One might well ask, how could this snub not have come about?
Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane, shall we? Not two weeks into his presidency, Mr. Obama boorishly returned the bust of Sir Winston Churchill to the British ambassador in Washington. Talk about clueless.
Britain and the U.S. were the staunchest of allies since the American entry into World War II on December 7, 1941. Not only was Winston Churchill a courageous wartime partner of FDR, the British leader was later awarded an honorary American citizenship on April 9, 1963 — by John F. Kennedy, who described him as “the most honored and honorable man to walk the stage of human history in the time in which we live. Whenever and wherever tyranny threatened, he has always championed liberty [...] he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle[.]” It is true that Barack Obama was four months shy of his second birthday when Kennedy spoke those words, but the facts are available for him to learn, if not remember.
While 4,500 brave American servicemen and women have given their lives in Iraq during his own adulthood — indeed, partly during his own presidency — 519 valiant British military men and women have died in combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: far more than from any other ally of the United States.
Under these circumstances, what should Obama have done if he didn’t want the bust of Churchill in the Oval Office? Simple answer to simple question: store it in the basement. Or the attic. Who among us has not received house presents that don’t comport with our taste or interests? What do we do when we know the friends who gave us the gifts will visit us again? We take them out of the basement or attic and have them sitting in our living rooms as if they were there from the time our friends left. We don’t have to look at the gift every day, and the friend is none the wiser when he or she returns for another visit.
The one thing no one with any common sense does is make a big deal about returning the present, or, in this case, the loan. And it wasn’t a present or loan to either George W. Bush or to Barack Obama. It was a loan to the people of the United States of America. Prime Minister Tony Blair had given the bust to President George W. Bush as a show of solidarity in the aftermath of 9/11 — as an inspiration to the president in a time of mourning and difficulty for the United States. Blair wanted the American people to know that the British people stood foursquare with them.
No matter all that for President Obama. When the president sent Churchill packing, Newsweek opined,
Maybe it’s no surprise that Obama wouldn’t want Churchill watching over his shoulder. After all, it was Churchill who, in 1952, ordered a crackdown on the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule in Kenya, Obama’s ancestral homeland. Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was labeled a subversive during the uprising and spent months in detention.