On the War of 1812 and Caddyshack and the British at the White House in 2012

Mar 14, 2012 5:59pm

At the State Department, UK Prime Minister David and Mrs. Samantha Cameron were honored with a lunch thrown by Vice President Joe and Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Prime Minister Cameron said that he and his wife “were looking through the guest list last night in bed and Samantha said ‘the star from my favorite movie is going to be there.’ “I said ‘Is it Ben Kingsley from Gandhi or Peter O’Toole from Lawrence of Arabia?’”

Said his wife: “No, it’s Chevy Chase from Caddyshack.”

One other quip from the UK PM, was about the presents he and President Obama exchanged: “I gave him a table tennis table and he gave me a barbecue, but when you see us standing next to each other, it’s quite clear that the person who needs the exercise is the British Prime Minister and the person who needs the barbecue is the President.” At this morning’s welcoming ceremony, President Obama recalled that the British burnt down the White House during the War of 1812, which began 200 years ago.

“They really lit up the place,” the president said. “But we moved on.”

Clinton noted the anniversary, and said that she had told her British counterpart the story of Dolly Madison, “my predecessor in one of my other lives,” who saved the portraits of George and Martha Washington when the British attacked the capital. Madison left behind the meal she had prepared for her husband and his officers, Clinton recounted, and “the British officers ate the meal before they burnt the White House.” “We are looking forward,” Clinton joked.

Cameron said that it was “slightly embarrassing being here on the 200th anniversary of 1812,” given that the British lost. He said he’d asked a historian friend why so few commemorated the war. “The thing is, of course, we’re coming up on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo,” the historian said. “And we so much more prefer talking about defeating the French.”

Truth is, the War of 1812 doesn’t get a lot of play in either the UK or the US.

But you know it…right? Tecumseh? “Don’t give up the ship”? Old Ironsides? It was the war that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”?

Anyone?

You can watch the full program of PBS’s “The War of 1812,” narrated by Joe Mantegna, HERE. For Caddyshack I refer you elsewhere.

-Jake Tapper

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