By Dana Milbank
WASHINGTON – Finally, a conservative who likes President Obama. And he’s not just any conservative, mind you. He’s a capital-C Conservative, British Prime Minister David Cameron. On his official visit to Washington, the Briton could not say enough good things about his American host.
On Iran: “The president’s tough, reasonable approach has united the world.”
On Libya: “Mr. President, Barack, about Libya … none of that would have been possible without the overwhelming support and overwhelming force that the United States provided in the early stages of that campaign – exactly what you promised you would do.”
On Afghanistan: “I think the U.S. surge … had a transformative effect.”
On Syria: “Our teams work incredibly closely together on this issue.”
The prime minister even defended Obama’s slow progress on debt reduction: “Actually, if you look at the U.S. plans for reducing the deficit over coming years, in many ways they are actually steeper than what we’re going to be doing.”
All that was missing was for Cameron to cut a campaign ad for Obama – and he just about did that, too. Cameron accompanied Obama to an NCAA basketball tournament game Tuesday night that just happened to be in the swing state of Ohio, and it produced some impossibly good press for Obama.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair famously became former President George W. Bush’s “poodle” when he followed the United States into Iraq. Now it’s the opposite relationship – an American politician from the left and a British prime minister from the right – but a similar dynamic is developing. This time, Cameron seems to be serving as Obama’s guard dog, defending his American master against the Mitt Romneys and the Rick Santora.
During the question time, a British correspondent cautioned Obama that a cricket match can last five days.
But it just may take that long for the two men to run out of ways to praise each other and their oh-so-special relationship. Obama went out of his way to call his new friend by his Christian name: “I value David’s leadership and partnership so much. … I very much appreciate David’s perspective. … I want to commend David personally for the leadership role he plays. … I concur with everything David said. … I’d echo everything that David said.”
Maybe it was the scent of the magnolias flowering in the Rose Garden, but Cameron was awestruck by his host, whom he called Bar-ACK:
“I have to say, Barack, with that spectacular command of our shared language … Barack, thank you, because there are some countries whose alliance is a matter of convenience, but ours is a matter of conviction. … As Barack has said, the relationship between Britain and America is the strongest that it has ever been.”
David hailed the World War II service of Barack’s grandfather. Barack tried to speak David’s English: “David, we are chuffed to bits that you are here and I’m looking forward to a great natter.” David expressed regret for the British burning of the White House, in 1812. Barack gave one of the two questions for the American side to correspondent Alister Bull, whose accent matches Cameron’s. Some of the American reporters grumbled.
“It’s the special relationship,” Bull said.
“It’s a special relationship,” Obama agreed.
Dana Milbank’s email address is danamilbank@wash post.com. He writes for The Washington Post Writers Group.