One outcome of this election that hasn't drawn much attention is the likely rift with the United States that will develop from a growing trans-Atlantic divorce. Some facts seem quite obvious: first, there has not been in the history of Great Britain a head of one of the major political parties as anti-American as Nick Clegg, the star of this comedy. What's more, never has the leader of the Conservative Party distanced himself as far from Washington as has the present Tory candidate. The nearest comparison would be Harold Wilson, who strained the bilateral relationship more than any predecessor in the 20th century.
The question, without doubt, is how much of Cameron's bilateral skepticism is pure show and will dissipate once he arrives at 10 Downing Street. It is probably mostly show. But the problem remains in so far as the reasons for this skepticism won't change in the next few months. What Cameron wants — in evoking Clegg — is a relationship that is not subservient. This is seemingly what Obama has not wanted to concede because the bilateral problem is Barack Obama, and that wasn't addressed in today's polls. Obama is the least NATO-oriented U.S. president since James Monroe in 1820. For Obama, the main political axis is not the Atlantic but the Pacific. And the United Kingdom, as such, is geographically out of the picture.
There is a protagonist these days who is the best witness to Obama's apathy toward the United Kingdom and who is the most NATO-oriented of all: Gordon Brown. Obama has "snubbed" Brown, denied him bilateral meetings, and treated him to disdainful acts of protocol. And this from a president who was going to improve relations with Europe, where the United Kingdom is the closest North American ally, and with Brown and Obama being ideologically in tune.
It is difficult to predict today's poll result, but after the new government tackles its most urgent anti-crisis measures, then it better figure out what to do about Washington.