On US radio's Garrison show today, I was asked for my reaction as a true born Englishman to President Obama's double insult - first the sending back of the Winston Churchill bust, then his snub to Gordon Brown. "Tough one. Really tough one," I said, torn - as most of surely are - between delight at seeing Brown roundly humiliated, and dismay at having the special relationship so peremptorily, cruelly and bafflingly ruptured.
Michelle Obama's dress sense may be impeccable, but what of her politics? (Photo: Getty)
Iain Martin is quite right here: no matter how utterly rubbish we have become as a nation in the Blair/Brown years, Britain's friendship is something Obama will come to regret having dispensed with so lightly. This was not the act of a global statesman, but of a hormonal teenager dismissing her bestest of best BFs for no other reason than that she felt like it and she can, so there.
What was the guy thinking? In researching my new book Welcome to Obamaland, I discovered that Obama's judgment is pretty dreadful - but this? My favourite theory so far - suggested by presenter Greg Garrison - was that it was a move calculated to please his Lady Macbeth. At the moment in Britain, we're still in the "Doesn't she look fabulous in a designer frock" stage of understanding of Michelle Obama. Gradually, though, we'll begin to realise that she is every bit the terrifying executive's wife that Hillary Clinton was. Or, shudder, Cherie Blair.
We may just LURVE Michelle's fashion sense. But Michelle doesn't reciprocate our affection, one bit. Her broad-brush view of history associates Brits with the wicked white global hegemony responsible for the slave trade. Never mind that a white, Tory Englishman - William Wilberforce - brought the slave trade to an end. Judging by her record, Michelle does not make room for such subtle nuance.
Consider her notorious statement that: "For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country." Consider her (till-recently suppressed) Princeton thesis, "Princeton Educated Blacks And The Black Community."
In it she writes: "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."
Here we see that she has mastered the authentic voice of grievance culture. She also - the thesis was written in 1985 - pre-empts the Macpherson report's ludicrous, catch-all definition of racism: "A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person." No matter how hard young Michelle's white undergraduate contemporaries try to be nice, it's not their behaviour that counts, but how Michelle feels.
More worrying, though, and dangerous, than young Michelle's desperate quest for validation through victimhood is the other strain within her thesis. "As I enter my final year at Princeton," she writes. "I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates - acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals at Princeton are not as clear as before."
"Yes, exactly, you silly girl" you want to shriek at young Michelle as you give her a good shake. "It's called 'opening your mind', 'broadening your experience', 'allowing youthful dogma to be shaped by reality.' It's why people go to university, don't you know?"