So how will the Brown trip go down at home? There is a danger that the errors could eclipse what was an undoubted coup of securing the visit in the first place. Tom Bradby, ITN's political editor, has described it as a "chaotically-organised visit" saying that the journalists were left outside, not knowing if they'd get to ask a question or not. The point, he said, was that it seemed the Obama White House didn't really care much about Brown's visit. This may, of course, be due to the change in the White House staff not knowing the ropes. CBS reported that "it's generally believed that what Brown's out to rescue in America — as much as the world economy — is his own political future" and quoted a British journalist describing Brown's mood as "panting desperation". Also Brown was foolish enough to sit by an aircraft window as his aides came at him with a hairbrush, trying to make him look presentable as he made his way down the aircraft steps. The cameras caught it all, and Channel Four showed it.
Poor old Brown does seem to be jinxed in this regard. He goes to Iraq, and gets photographed behind a machine gun. He launches his leadership speech, his face obscured by an autocue. Once on a trip to China, he spoke to reporters while leaning his arm on what he thought was a headrest. It was someone's head. They just adjusted their headphone, and kept on watching the film. More charitable souls than me will find this gaucheness endearing. It makes me appreciate how lucky we were to have a class act like Blair - on the international scene, at least. But in spite of all of this, my guess is that most newspapers will play it straight tomorrow. Depending on how long their reporters were kept waiting outside the White House, that is.