Embassy Row: It ain’t over

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Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to the United States who shocked the staid diplomatic world with a tell-all expose about his years as the queen’s envoy in Washington, has turned his literary skills to the U.S. presidential election.

In a lengthy article in London’s Daily Mail newspaper, Mr. Meyer quotes Yogi Berra, the legendary former player and manager of baseball’s New York Yankees and New York Mets famous for his twisted witticisms.

“Things are not looking good for Mitt Romney [but] as Yogi Berra used to say: ‘It ain’t over, till it’s over,’ and it ain’t over,” Mr. Meyer wrote.

Unlike some woebegone Republican insiders predicting a Romney defeat, Mr. Meyer noted that the race is just entering the home stretch.

“As bad as it looks for Romney, only a fool would assume an Obama victory with seven weeks of campaigning to go,” he said, adding that “Barack Obama is vulnerable.”

Mr. Meyer, ambassador here from 1997 to 2003, was as blunt in his assessment of the campaign as he was shocking in his memoirs, “D.C. Confidential,” in which he dished dirt on British politicians who visited Washington.

He warned both Republicans and Democrats that nothing in politics is settled until the votes are counted on Election Day.

“This year has looked to be the best opportunity for a Republican to defeat a Democratic president since Ronald Reagan crushed Jimmy Carter in 1980,” he wrote. During most of that presidential campaign, Mr. Carter held a comfortable lead over Mr. Reagan.

In 1988 as a visiting fellow at Harvard’s University’s Center for International Affairs, Mr. Meyer recalled the presidential campaign of Republican George H.W. Bush and another former Massachusetts governor, Democrat Michael Dukakis. He noted that Mr. Dukakis held a double-digit lead over Mr. Bush in August but lost in a landslide in November.

Mr. Meyer admitted that he was impressed by Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric and promise of hope and change during the 2008 campaign.

“I have to confess to being carried away by the emotion of the moment, as I watched Obama’s moving victory speech before a vast, exultant crowd in his hometown of Chicago,” he wrote. “But the vaulting expectations simply could not be met.”

Mr. Meyer visited the United States just before 2010 congressional elections in which Republicans, running on a groundswell of tea party passion, defeated the Democrats and retook the House.

“Even Obama supporters were starting to talk about him becoming a one-term president,” Mr. Meyer said.

However, he added, Mr. Romney cannot just count on a crippled economy and a maelstrom in the Middle East.

“The former governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, once said, ‘You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose,’ ” Mr. Meyer said. “Mitt Romney’s problem is that is he all prose and no poetry.”

Bet you a six-pack

Whoever wins the presidential election, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer is sure of one thing: The next president will approve the long-delayed oil pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“I will bet a six-pack that it is going to happen,” he told foreign policy students in Washington, without specifying Canadian or American beer.

Under pressure from environmentalists, President Obama delayed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, but is expected to reverse himself after the election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has promised to endorse the project within his first 100 days as president, if he defeats Mr. Obama.

The ambassador said the $7 billion project will create tens of thousands of jobs and pump 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Canada is already America’s top foreign supplier of oil.

In remarks earlier this month at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Doer warned that the United States is not Canada’s only potential market. China also wants the oil.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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