“Still, there are words for the sort of reception meted out, and the most polite are ‘low’ and ‘key’.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… or, rather, as far away from the ranch as you can reasonably get…  For the benefit of those concerned about accountability and the democratic process…  Liam Clarke has some points to make about Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, and the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness’ recent, separate, trips to the US.

In that situation, how much priority would you give when tapped on the arm and told that the Northern Ireland Executive couldn’t sort out welfare and you owe them one? In Washington they might recall that this place has gone pear-shaped before. Special envoy Gary Hart was treated to ribald abuse and asked what he knew about anything.

After that, an investment conference to celebrate our latest “breakthrough” in the Stormont House Agreement had to be cancelled. US officials had helped Norman Houston, of the Northern Ireland Bureau to promote our coming fall in corporation tax. As soon as they got the message across, they were told that the “game-changer” economic measure might not happen.

It could well strike President Obama that there are better, more appreciative and more rewarding places in the world to try to influence than this place. This is his final period as President and he can’t afford to waste time. Neither can Joe Biden nor John Kerry.

All concerned should, perhaps, be grateful that the belatedly forthright Obama was otherwise engaged…

But, in fairness to the NI Secretary of State, whose visit we are told “[had] been planned for some time”, it does, at least, have the benefit of being government-to-government contact.  Unlike Mr McGuinness’ sudden visit.  Despite the BBC reporting…

During his trip, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister has met representatives from the US State Department and influential Irish Americans, asking them to lobby the British government to give more financial support to Stormont.

As Liam Clarke more accurately notes

The most depressing thing about Mr McGuinness’s trip, in particular, is that it represents a search for leverage over his opponents rather than a search for agreement. Rather than reaching a deal with the DUP and the British Government, which is what is required, Sinn Fein dispatched him at party expense to try and drum up support in America.