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March 4th, 2009
12:25 PM ET

Gordon Brown needs more from his new best friend than a handshake

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/04/art.obama.lands.dc.jpg]

Evening Standard
Anne McElvoy

Mr Obama knew that his visitor longed to hear that he was a special visitor. He duly said that the relationship with the UK was lasting and valuable – and sounded as if he meant it.

Then Mr Brown pushed his luck by trying to sound more familiar with his new friend than he really is, and was left floundering on the subject of tennis and basketball. We heard the nervous talk of a man who wanted to spin out his 30 minutes with the most popular politician on the planet.

In one of the early West Wing episodes, a nervous new aide is briefed by a know-all colleague, who tells him his job will be to hurry people in and out of the Oval Office. "They want to linger as long as possible. The President really wants them to go. And that's just the Prime Ministers and heads of state." There's always some truth in this: however special the relationship may be, it is lopsided by virtue of wealth and power.

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