April 21st, 2021


Once Again, Mr. President, You Misspoke

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published April 28, 2016

President Obama on Friday at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron convinced me whether or not the British should stay in the European Union. The vote is on June 23. On Friday our president also penned a column in the Daily Telegraph, Britain's equivalent of The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both at his press conference and in his column Mr. Obama argued that Britain should not vote to leave the EU. The British should stay in Europe.

Until Mr. Obama marshaled his case, I was uncertain as to what our British allies should do. Now I know. After reading his column and listening to his press conference the answer became clear. Britain should opt out of the EU. Once again, Mr. Obama's reasoning made the case inescapable. Once again, he was wrong — and arrogantly wrong.

Britain's economy is sound. There is no reason for it to be dragged down by the other Europeans. It is far stouter in its anti-terrorist policies than the countries of the continent. Its immigration policies have proven more civilized and it actually has a natural barrier to Europe's migrant crisis. It is called the English Channel. The channel is apparently even more formidable than Donald Trump's proposed wall along our southern border. Before Europe's migrant crisis becomes Britain's migrant crisis, the British should kick the EU coil. The Brits are perfectly justified in ignoring Mr. Obama's bullying.

They should also see through his hypocrisy. After all, it is Mr. Obama who has led America in retreat. He has withdrawn our influence all over the world. Why now should Britain follow his call for the British people to stay in Europe? Be consistent, Mr. President. You want us out of the Middle East. You want us less dominant in Europe. Well, let Britain make up its own mind, and if the British people want to be less dominant in Europe so be it. Welcome their defense of British sovereignty. The EU with its morass of regulations and infringements on British sovereignty is hobbling a great nation. Let Britain be Britain. After all, soon America will be free of you.

You spoke on Friday of America's "special relationship" with Britain. It is one of the few times you have mentioned that historic relationship. I think it is arguable that you are the most anti-British president in modern times. You, without any explanation, summarily removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House shortly after your inauguration. If a Republican is your successor, I think it would be appropriate for him to return Churchill to his honored position once again. Without his leadership in World War II, we might all be speaking German.

At least Churchill was half-American. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, made the point last week that your ancestry is "part-Kenyan," and he speculated that your removal of Churchill might have revealed an "ancestral dislike" for the British Empire. Kenya was a British colony from 1920 until it gained its independence in 1962. You opened yourself up to such speculation and then you recklessly entered into a hotly debated British controversy. You might have anticipated Mr. Johnson's rude hostility. Yet in your arrogance you proceeded.

Actually, ever since Mr. Obama removed Churchill's bust from the White House, advocates of the special relationship have been noting his apparent distancing of the United States from Britain. We have pondered his apparent disrelish for Britain and its imperial past. The years have gone by and he did nothing to quiet our suspicions. Then out of the blue Friday he comes to London to lecture the British on the need to remain in Europe. He even threatened them with the warning that an independent trade deal with Britain is "not going to happen anytime soon."

In this Mr. Obama was again wrong. Look at the calendar. My fellow English-speakers in the United Kingdom, you will not have long to wait for your trade deal with the United States. It will come soon after Inauguration Day, 2017.

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.