The Obama and Gordon card
It's important to separate facts from interpretation in the story of Gordon's nightmare kitchen. [credit: The Sun]
No-one disputes that Downing Street was "frantic" - to quote one source - when repeated requests for a proper bilateral meeting with the president were turned down. Nor does it dispute the fact that their only one-to-one meeting so far has been a "walk and talk" in the UN kitchen.
What though does all this tell us?
It reveals how keen Labour strategists were to play the Obama and Gordon card before their conference. When I interviewed Peter Mandelson in the summer he constantly linked the two men for having taken the right decisions during the economic crisis.
If they hadn't been so desperate, this would never have been a story at all. After all, no other EU country's leader got a meeting with Obama. What's more, those leaders he did meet he had good reason to want to woo now - the new Japanese PM and the presidents of China and Russia whose support is needed for tougher sanctions against Iran.
Even without a meeting, Brown could fairly claim that his and Obama's international and economic agendas are closely aligned - witness their complementary speeches to the UN yesterday.
What though of the White House's refusal to grant a meeting?
We simply don't know if it was down to carelessness - as with the cack-handed reception given to Team Brown at the White House; or political calculation - "why invest time in a foreign leader who could be out of office soon?" or simple pragmatism - "we have a lot to do and we're too busy to fix meetings to help anyone else".
What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories and lacks a good enough friend in the White House to lend him some of his charisma.
We also know that by day's end Obama will have found a way to show how much he values Brown. It will, of course, be too late.