Or, the fundamental gracelessness of the Obama administration.
The Prime Minister’s first official meeting with the new President fell short of the lavish welcomes laid on in recent years.
After intense negotiations with the new administration, Mr Brown got some warm words on the historic links between the U.S. and UK.
Within minutes of landing in a snowbound Washington on Monday night, Mr Brown’s aides had been made aware that their high expectations for the trip were in danger of exceeding the low-key welcome the Obama administration was prepared to offer.
Suggestions that the new President’s crowded diary made it impossible to give more time to Mr Brown rang hollow after it emerged that his other engagements included a routine speech to the Department for Interior and a meeting with the Boy Scouts of America.