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More Bulldog Than Poodle
Brown did not reciprocate. Cordial but not friendly, he eschewed praise for Bush in favor of the usual homage to the Special Relationship. "I'm very grateful to you for your hospitality" was as effusive as Brown got.
The Briton was discreet enough to give nuance and subtlety to his policy differences with Bush. While Bush has placed blame for the violence in Iraq solely on al-Qaeda -- he mentioned the terrorist group 95 times in a single speech about Iraq last week -- Brown tried to put it in context: "In Iraq, you're dealing with Sunni-Shia violence, you're dealing with the involvement of Iran, but you're certainly dealing with a large number of al-Qaeda terrorists."
Reporters tried to provoke a more open dispute. Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times inquired about Brown's view of the war on terror -- a sensitive subject since a member of his government said the term only strengthens terrorists.
Brown answered that "we're in a generation-long battle against terrorism" and added: "We are at one in fighting the battle against terrorism, and that struggle is one that we will fight with determination." But he again avoided mention of a "war."
With Blair's successor unwilling to be his playmate, Bush turned to the press corps for entertainment.
Before the president left the news conference, he advised BBC correspondent Nick Robinson: "You better cover up your bald head."
"I never knew you cared," Robinson said.
"I don't," Bush called back.
The president, after calling on Rutenberg in honor of his 38th birthday, observed to Brown: "Amazing country, Gordon -- a guy that's under 40 years old asking me and you questions."
"Six of my cabinet are under 40," Brown replied.
"You must be feeling damn old, then," Bush speculated.
Brown, 56, was probably feeling even older after the diet he was fed at Camp David. Sunday night brought beef tenderloin, peas with smoked bacon, and brownies. Monday morning found bacon and eggs, followed by cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings and banana pudding for lunch.
The British press called it the "Roast Beef Summit." But they shouldn't have been surprised. Rugby players have hearty appetites.