No ordinary week for the PM
"No ordinary week at no ordinary time".
That was the advance billing Gordon Brown gave to this, his week in America. A week in which decisions loomed on how to combat climate change, to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, to win the fight with al-Qaeda and to revive the economies of the world.
Looming too was the most predictably unpredictable figure on the world stage - Libya's Colonel Gaddafi. Team Brown feared that, after their maladroit reaction to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the Gordon and Gaddafi show could ruin all they'd so carefully planned. In fact Gaddafi's theatrical tearing up of the UN charter gave the prime minister an irresistible opportunity to slap down Libya and stand up for the United Nations at one and the same time.
What Team Brown did not anticipate is that it would be the prime minister's relationship with the man he sees as a friend, ally and political soulmate - Barack Obama - which would threaten to overshadow the substance of the week's diplomacy.
Odd this since, if you listen to both men's speeches to the UN, it's clear they are in political lock step. Gordon Brown has long dreamed of an American president who would give a speech like the one Obama gave to the United Nations.
What's more, by week's end, prime minister and president were standing shoulder to shoulder not in preparation for war - as their predecessors had - but in an effort to avoid one by turning the diplomatic screw on Iran. Obama's support for what Gordon Brown calls "a growth strategy" - and what others call a policy of 'borrow and spend' - is a political boost on the eve of his party conference.
So, what went wrong? Ask Gordon Brown and his answer would be clear if probably unbroadcastable on a family programme. He is furious with what he regards as the media's childish games and disinterest in issues and results.
But it's not as simple as that. Downing Street were "desperate" - to quote the former Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown - for a Gordon and Obama moment . The White House had other more important things on their minds and in the president's diary. Both failed to foresee the headlines that would follow when all this leaked out .
The prime minister is now struggling to break away from two powerful media narratives. One lazily states that he's politically doomed and seizes on any evidence to confirm it. The other - advocated by his enemies on the right - insists that Britain is now in decline diplomatically, militarily and economically.
A snub from the US president fitted both narratives nicely. The news of a snatched conversation in a UN kitchen added unforgettable colour.
The irony is that once the"snub story" emerged, Gordon Brown was rewarded with the bilateral he'd craved and pictures to die for as the president repeatedly clapped him on the back and tightly held the hand of his wife Sarah. Thus, the special relationship was, once again, put back on track.
The same certainly cannot be said of the relationship between Gordon Brown and the media.
This was, indeed, no ordinary week.