Obama's speech recycled by Cowen

Rupert Cornwell
Thursday 19 March 2009 01:00
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Everyone knows the Irish adore the Americans, fellow victims of British colonialism. But for the Taoiseach to repeat a speech just given by President Obama a few moments earlier is surely taking flattery too far – even in the anything-goes atmosphere of St Patrick's Day at the White House.

At a reception capping Tuesday's festivities in Washington, Brian Cowen was a few paragraphs into a speech scrolling on the Teleprompter when he realised he was using the one just delivered by the President. Abruptly, the Irish prime minister stopped and looked at Mr Obama, saying, "that's your speech".

Entering into the spirit of things, the latter went back to the microphone and ad-libbed what Mr Cowen might have said – producing the spectacle of Mr Obama thanking himself for being invited to the White House.

The confusion appears to have stemmed from the fact that the Irish leader was to give the same speech at two separate functions. But it is surprising nonetheless. In his brief time in the White House, Mr Obama has become famous for a reliance on scripted remarks at public occasions, read from Teleprompters. Such errors should by now have been ironed out.

Even so, the hiccup did not take the gloss off an occasion when fountains ran green and Mr Obama named the hugely-respected owner of American football's Super Bowl holders the country's next ambassador in Dublin. Dan Rooney, 76, proprietor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, not only boasts Irish ancestry. He is also a Republican who was a vital early supporter of the President in the key state of Pennsylvania.

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