This is not at all reassuring. The Telegraph U.K.,trying to put the best face on the administration's dissing of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week, tacitly concludes that the president is overwhelmed by his duties and is simply not up to the job. I don't know if their assessment is accurate, but if it is, it should surprise no one. President Obama came to the White House with zero executive and administrative experience. That he feels overwhelmed is perfectly understandable, even if dismaying, given that he's never been in a position where he's had to keep so many bowling pins in the air before:
Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.
British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.
But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy".
The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.
"That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they're finding it a hard thing to do everything."
The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.
The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that one of Mr Obama's most prominent African American backers, whose endorsement he spent two years cultivating, has told friends that he detects a weakness in Mr Obama's character.
"The one real serious flaw I see in Barack Obama is that he thinks he can manage all this," the well-known figure told a Washington official, who spoke to this newspaper. "He's underestimating the flood of things that will hit his desk." A Democratic strategist, who is friends with several senior White House aides, revealed that the president has regularly appeared worn out and drawn during evening work sessions with senior staff in the West Wing and has been forced to make decisions more quickly than he is comfortable.
This all may be exaggerated or it may be accurate, who knows? We do know, though, that President Obama likes to compare himself to Presidents Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, but both of these men struggled with much worse than Mr. Obama is facing, and FDR was further handicapped with the after-effects of polio. If it is true that President Obama feels overwhelmed now what will he feel like if a terrorist attack is thrown into the mix or if the media should turn on him and subject him to the same relentless daily criticism to which George W. Bush was treated. It'll doubtless be enough to drive him back to the cigarettes.
The nation's voters took an accomplished high school quarterback and put him directly into the Super Bowl. The results have so far been predictably unpretty. The White House is no place for on-the-job training - not even for a candidate who can seduce a nation with mellifluous promises of Hope and Change. Nevertheless, we're still only in the opening minutes of the game. Things might get much better for Barack Obama just as they did for Bill Clinton after a shaky start. Or, it may be that the President is indeed out of his depth, in which case we're in for a turbulent four years.RLC