The question that flummoxed the great orator John Crace The Guardian, Friday 3 April 2009 larger | smaller Barack Obama, the World's Greatest Orator (™all news organisations), didn't exactly cover himself in glory when the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson asked him a question about who was to blame for the financial crisis. Normally word perfect, Obama ummed, ahed and waffled for the best part of two and a half minutes. Here, John Crace decodes what he was really thinking ... Nick Robinson: "A question for you both, if I may. The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis. France and Germany both blame Britain and America for causing this crisis. Who is right? And isn't the debate about that at the heart of the debate about what to do now?" Brown immediately swivels to leave Obama in pole position. There is a four-second delay before Obama starts speaking [THANKS FOR NOTHING, GORDY BABY. REMIND ME TO HANG YOU OUT TO DRY ONE DAY.] Barack Obama: "I, I, would say that, er ... pause [I HAVEN'T A CLUE] ... if you look at ... pause [WHO IS THIS NICK ROBINSON JERK?] ... the, the sources of this crisis ... pause [JUST KEEP GOING, BUDDY] ... the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to . . . pause [I'M IN WAY TOO DEEP HERE] ... a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system ... pause, close eyes [THIS IS GOING TO GO DOWN LIKE A CROCK OF SHIT BACK HOME. HELP]. I think what is also true is that ... pause [I WANT NICK ROBINSON TO DISAPPEAR] ... here in Great Britain ... pause [SHIT, GORDY'S THE HOST, DON'T LAND HIM IN IT] ... here in continental Europe ... pause [DAMN IT, BLAME EVERYONE.] ... around the world. We were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and er ... pause [I'VE LOST MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT AGAIN] ... the highly integrated, er, global capital markets that have emerged ... pause [I'M REALLY WINGING IT NOW]. So at this point, I'm less interested in ... pause [YOU] ... identifying blame than fixing the problem. I think we've taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring banks are adequately capitalised, er, dealing with the enormous, er ... pause [WHY DIDN'T I QUIT WHILE I WAS AHEAD?] ... drop-off in demand and contraction that has taken place. More importantly, for the long term, making sure that we've got a set of, er, er, regulations that are up to the task, er, and that includes, er, a number that will be discussed at this summit. I think there's a lot of convergence between all the parties involved about the need, for example, to focus not on the legal form that a particular financial product takes or the institution it emerges from, but rather what's the risk involved, what's the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately, much more effective coordination, er, between countries so we can, er, anticipate the risks that are involved there. Dealing with the, er, problem of derivatives markets, making sure we have set up systems, er, that can reduce some of the risks there. So, I actually think ... pause [FANTASTIC. I'VE LOST EVERYONE, INCLUDING MYSELF] ... there's enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and, er ... pause [I'M OUTTA HERE. TIME FOR THE USUAL CLOSING BOLLOCKS] ... I'm a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.