Being on President Nixon’s enemies list was the highest single honour I’ve ever received.
It’s been a while since this column had a pop across the Pond at POTUS and this morning’s headlines that the White House has broken off relationships with Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States of America seem an ideal place to begin again.
Incompetent. Inept. Insecure. Damning words from Sir Kim Darroch describing President Trump’s White house administration. Damning but not surprising, surely? This is an administration that in 30 months is now on its 7th Chief Communications Officer, 4th Homeland Security Chief, Security Chief, 4th National Security Advisor, 3rd Attorney General, 3rd Chief of Staff and 3rd Press Secretary. That does not scream to me of a settled, unified, focused organisation.
All, Sir Kim did, is what an ambassador is supposed to do. How else is a government of one country supposed to understand how best to deal with that of one of their allies unless they have the full facts – or the full facts as their representative in that country sees them at any rate – at their disposal?
Our current Prime Minister knows that. Her spokesman told the Guardian that she said “it is hugely important that ambassadors are able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country.” She said: “It is therefore absolutely right that we continue to give Sir Kim Darroch our full support.” One of the candidates to be our next Prime Minister said something similar. The other, shamefully, did not and refused to answer the question of whether he would keep Sir Kim in position. But then it was probably one of his supporters who leaked the emails in the first place. It doesn’t matter now, anyway, since Sir Kim resigned this morning.
According to the estimable Sir Christopher Meyer, who was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States of America when both Clinton and George W Bush occupied the White House, Darroch “has done nothing wrong”. If it’s OK with Sir Christopher, who is a fascinating, erudite speaker, by the way, then it’s OK with me. He told Sky News yesterday morning: “What he has done is use highly classified cables and other forms of communication to give a candid assessment of the White House and its present incumbent. That is what he is paid to do. It is what I was paid to do with Bill Clinton and George W Bush. In my view he has behaved completely professionally.”
It is the leak that is disgraceful, Sir Christopher believes, in that, far from being in the public interest, it’s actually damaging to our national interest. And, as he goes on to point out, one always has to ask the question ‘Cui bono?’ – Who benefits. The benefit it seems, will be someone who wanted to get rid of Sir Kim and replace them with someone else, more amenable to the political agenda of whoever it is who is behind the leaks. For this is not whistle-blowing, this is political game-play.
Jackie Onassis’s mantra was always ‘Never complain. Never explain.” Trump has attained the highest political office in the land, yet his response to the leak was to immediately slag off Sir Kim – “He’s not liked or well thought of in the US. We won’t deal with him again”.
Or, to put it another way: “Muuuuuuuum. That boy said nasty things about me. Tell him off. I don’t want to play with him again.”
I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as being a bit, well, insecure. So, exactly what Sir Kim said then.
Grow up you big, orange baby.