Cameron was greeted Tuesday with a real red carpet. The International Herald Tribune's Harvey Morris writes that earlier this week, "British officials were ecstatic that Mr. Cameron hitched an unprecedented ride aboard Air Force One (even France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, did not receive that honor, they boasted.)." The press agreed: "Obama pushed protocol to the limits to give the prime minister the biggest welcome accorded any world leader this year," the Guardian said. "The warmth of the presidential welcome was striking," the Financial Times reported.
Then Obama treated Cameron to a bit of American culture -- March Madness. The duo ate hot dogs in the swing state of Ohio. Cameron even ate his with ketchup.
Then there was a joint press conference in the Rose Garden Wednesday, followed by a state dinner. The two men gave highly complementary speeches. "Barack Obama pays gushing tribute to special relationship," the Guardian declared.
But it was here, with the state dinner, that the British began to suffer feelings of inadequacy. The entertainment was the British band Mumford & Sons. This marked a moment of "national embarrassment," The Telegraph's Ian Martin writes. "Where once we sent the Americans the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and David Bowie, now we can only extend to Mumford & Sons. The noodling, whiny, public-schoolboy folkists were the entertainment during the state dinner... Imagine the bemusement of senior members of the White House team forced to watch Mumford & Sons play."
For the Telegraph's Tim Stanley, the cringe moment was Cameron's speech. "In a speech that can only be described as creepy, David Cameron appeared to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election on Wednesday night. Standing in front of a grand piano covered in candles (some of us were half expecting the Prime Minister to break into a chorus of 'Stay' by Shakespeare’s Sister), he compared the President to Theodore Roosevelt…" Why, Stanley asks, "is Cameron alienating himself from the American Right? This trip he has failed to meet with any of the Republican leaders and studiously avoided mentioning conservative heroes in his speech."
On Thursday, the duo split, and Cameron visited the September 11 memorial in New York City. Unsettling self-reflection ensued. The Herald Tribune's Morris writes the visit was "a happy stroke of timing," so Cameron "got to serve as a stage prop in the president’s re-election campaign." Others worried Cameron lent credibility to things the U.K. doesn't particularly agree with. "The political elite was in ecstasy this week because of the 'lavish' hospitality laid on for David Cameron by US President Barack Obama," the Liverpool Daily Post writes. "OK, so the plane ride was in Air Force One, which is better than Mr Cameron is used to… All the same, one has to wonder whether Britain’s blood-soaked decade of blind loyalty to the USA’s demented foreign policy is really worth a fancy plane ride for our Prime Minister. Even if they do let him keep the slippers and eye mask."