UK envoy to US says Obama is bright but ”aloof”October 3rd, 2008 - 1:21 pm ICT by ANI
London, Oct.3 (ANI): Britains Ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, has described Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a “decidedly liberal” senator “who was finding his feet, and then got diverted by his presidential ambitions”.
In a frank verdict delivered to Prime Minister Gordon Brown through a seven-page letter marked sensitive, Ambassador Sheiwald has described Obama as intelligent but aloof Obama “can seem to sit on the fence, assiduously balancing pros and cons and does betray a highly educated and upper middle class mindset. Charges of elitism are not entirely unfair and he is maybe aloof, insensitive at times, the envoy says in his letter to Brown.
Obama’’s speeches are “elegant” and “mesmerising”, and Sir Nigel describes him as “highly intelligent” and having “star quality”.
The letter’’s contents suggest that Brown could initially find it difficult to deal with President Obama (if elected) because he remains a largely unknown quantity who “resists pigeon-holing”.
Sir Nigel traces the ambition of Obama, 47, to reach the White House right back to his 20s or before. “He has talked at least since the 1980s about a shot at the Presidency.” He also identifies several political vulnerabilities that Senator McCain will seek to exploit in the last month of his campaign against the Illinois senator.
“He can talk too dispassionately for a national campaign about issues which touch people personally. His Democratic primary victory over Hillary Clinton showed that “he is tough and competitive. This is of course the Chicago school. You don”t beat Clinton without being resilient” but “his energy levels do dip and he can be uninspiring e.g. in debates”. Sir Nigel also envisions a potential clash between Downing Street and an Obama administration over Iran.
“If Obama wins, we will need to consider with him the articulation between (a) his desire for ”unconditional” dialogue with Iran and (b) our and the [United Nations Security Council]‘’s requirement of prior suspension of enrichment before the nuclear negotiations proper can begin.”
But Sir Nigel - who described the Iraq war as “the Iraq expedition” and “Bush’’s Iraq adventure”, says Obama’’s Iraq policy gelled with Britain’’s.
He writes approvingly of Obama’’s “mainstream team of youthful economic advisers, with strong credentials [who] approach policy with refreshingly few prescriptions”.
His “progressive position on climate change”, his ”pragmatic realism” and “balanced approach to the big security issues” is also laudable, he adds. Sir Nigel concludes that searching for a deal between Israel and the Palestinians is “unlikely to be a top priority for Obama” and he expresses concern about his protectionist trade policy, while noting that he has “repositioned himself somewhat towards free trade”.
Sir Nigel’’s letter, though initially drafted by his political staff, is an intensely personal assessment of Mr Obama and is based largely on the ambassador’’s owns observations from the campaign trail.
He has travelled to rallies as far afield as New Hampshire and South Carolina - where he had a personal meeting with McCain - and to the party conventions in Denver and St Paul, Minnesota.
Although he has the lowest public profile of any recent British ambassador in Washington, Sir Nigel has won respect for his range of contacts within the Bush administration and the campaigns. (ANI)
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