After yesterday’s mainly ceremonial proceedings, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron got down to business today in London. The two leaders met to discuss the various situations across the Middle East, and presented a united front in the ensuing press conference, saying that the U.S. and the U.K. will always support Israel’s right to exist, they support sanctions against Assad in Syria, and that Libyan strongman Qaddafi has got to go.
"I believe we have built enough momentum that, if we sustain the course we're on, [Qaddafi] is going to step down,” said President Obama. "I do think we have made enormous progress in Libya. We have saved lives. Qaddafi and his regime need to understand there will not be a letup in the pressure we are applying." Obama recognized that the mission is a complicated one, and that “this is going to be a slow, steady process,” but that the goal is to liberate the Libyans so “they can start creating the institutions required for self-determination.” (Hmm… that all sounds vaguely familiar…)
In his later bromidic speech to the British Parliament in Westminster Hall (much less impressive than Israeli PM Netanyahu's power-speech to Congress yesterday), President Obama expanded upon his earlier remarks and offered plenty of the usual platitudes about winning the future, investment, global environmental responsibilities, et al:
“We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that's more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.
“No country can hide from the dangers of carbon pollution, which is why we must build on what was achieved at Copenhagen and Cancun to leave our children a planet that is cleaner and safer.”
“Moreover, even when the free market works as it should, both our countries recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. And so part of our common tradition has expressed itself in a conviction that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security -- health care if you get sick, unemployment insurance if you lose your job, a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work.”
“Adam Smith's central insight remains true today: there is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women… We've also been reminded in the last few years that markets can sometimes fail. In the last century, both our nations put in place regulatory frameworks to deal with these challenges.”
It’s pretty discouraging that the President has yet to figure out that those government ‘regulatory frameworks’ are actually the cause of recession, and how he can both verbally praise yet actually insult the free market at every turn is really quite stunning. He spoke about global recovery, but I’m betting he was really thinking more about his international approval ratings than the world economy (Freudian slip, anyone?). The President is scheduled to leave England for a G8 summit in France tomorrow.