“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
What a lot of people are talking about is the racial angle (pardon the pun) of this alleged quote. One thing to keep in mind is that Obama is in fact partly English on the side of his mother, Ann Dunham. (Dunham is an English name, for one thing.) But people are thinking this is a not-too-veiled racial attack. I’d have to say I don’t what else the point of such quote could be, although it should be noted that the Romney campaign is saying this quote is inaccurate. Well, if so, they should sue the Telegraph for libel. If they don’t, it might seem like their guy actually said that, and they’re lying to cover it up.
What I really want to talk about, though, is this “special relationship” stuff. I remember there was a big dust-up back in 2009 about the “special relationship”, when Obama gave then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown a set of DVDs as a gift. The Prime Minister had given him a pen-holder made from the HMS Gannet. This upset a lot of people, but from what I can tell, Brown was treated like this by virtually everyone. He had that anti-charismatic thing (a lot like Al Gore) that made people dislike him instinctively. So I don’t think this means Obama doesn’t like Britain.
In practice, the “special relationship” seems to work like this: the British give us their culture–actors and actresses, authors, musicians–and we give them help whenever there’s a world war. It’s not a bad system, all told.
Seriously, though: the “special relationship” seems to have been heavily emphasized by Winston Churchill, presumably for the purpose of convincing the U.S. to intervene in World War II. And certainly, since America was founded people who had been British, there’s no doubt the two countries have a lot in common. However, I don’t know that it is really that “special”. Diplomatic relationships are usually forged and dismantled based on financial or military interests, not sentimentality. If–Heaven forbid!–the United States’ relationship with Britain deteriorated, we would no doubt start saying “well, the whole country was founded because of a war with them, after all.”
That’s really the point: a lot of this is contrived stuff for people to argue about that ultimately doesn’t mean very much. Example: Romney says he’ll put a bust of Winston Churchill back in the Oval Office if elected. Big deal. I admire Churchill, but that really doesn’t matter very much in the scheme of things. This is all a lot of pointless fighting over symbolism, as far as I’m concerned.