"Nobody there"

The Times Online quotes a senior British civil servant’s experience in dealing with the Obama administration.

Britain’s most senior civil servant has complained that Downing Street is finding it “unbelievably difficult” to make arrangements with the United States for the crucial G20 summit.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, reportedly said that the handover to the Obama Administration was hindering discussions about the meeting in London next month. …

Mr O’Donnell said that No 10 was having trouble even getting in touch with key personnel at the US Treasury department. “There is nobody there,” he told a civil service conference in Gateshead. “You cannot believe how difficult it is.”

His comments come after Downing Street was left frustrated by the White House’s chaotic handling of Gordon Brown’s visit last week. No 10 aides were left scrambling when the President’s staff changed press arrangements at the 11th hour.


Camile Paglia at Salon thinks that Obama’a “flacks, fixers and goons — his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes” are letting him down. Pejman Yousefzadeh meanwhile, wonders why one Obama nominee after the other turns out to have serious ethical, conflict of interest or other liabilities. A commenter at Eugene Volokh‘s thinks Obama is plain unlucky. But at what point are people going to start wondering to what extent Obama’s “flacks, fixers and goons”, his “smirky smart alecks” emanate from the center of power rather than unfortunately attaching themselves to it? The question’s not being asked yet, but it’s in the air, especially after all that time about being ready to lead on Day One; the calls for GWB to step down to make room for the healing touch; after all those speeches in front of the seals bearing the legend, “Office of the President Elect”. After all that, nada. One almost hopes it’s all due to carelessness.

Another time, another gender, but the same story.

Well no one told me about her the way she lied
Well no one told me about her how many people cried
But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know why should I care
Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her
She’s not there


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