President Barack Obama apparently had a momentary lapse at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland when he called British government official George Osborne “Jeffrey” at least three times.
George Osborne, 42, is the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer which is roughly the equivalent of our Treasury Secretary. Jeffrey Osborne, 65, is an R&B artist from Providence, Rhode Island.
The Financial Times explains this apparent case of mistaken identity: “The chancellor’s attempts to explain the complexities of tax avoidance to G8 leaders were thrown off course when Mr Obama interjected on three occasions to indicate that he agreed fully with ‘Jeffrey.’ Mr Osborne battled on in spite of the US president having apparently forgotten his name. It was only after his presentation that Mr Obama realized his mistake and apologized. Mr Obama explained that he knew who Mr Osborne was, adding: ‘I’m sorry, man. I must have confused you with my favorite R&B singer.'”
According to one observer at the meeting the UK Sun reports, “Osborne looked really put out … It got really cringe-worthy by the end.”
Although he was probably at least momentarily distressed, Osborne — who reportedly prides himself on his ties to US officials — later good-naturedly tweeted about it. And when the singer heard about the mixup, he had this to say: “Tell the chancellor that when I come over that way we’ll have to hook up and we’ll do a duet of On the Wings of Love or something.” He also admitted that “I was not aware that [Obama] was such a fan of mine.”
Under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, George Osborne is charged with the thankless task in his country of trying to rein in some of the social welfare spending under a deficit reduction plan while trying to grow the private-sector economy.