Free Markets, Free People

It’s Bush’s Fault Obama Is Traveling So Much

Dana Milbank does a pre-emptive strike on possible criticism of Obama’s globe trotting during a time of domestic economic woe.  He notes that the “normally querulous opposition” hasn’t said a word about the fact that he’s spent 12% of his presidency outside the country and has more trips planned before the end of the year – a record unsurpassed by any president.

Why no criticism per Milbank? Heh … why do you think?

Normally, Obama’s wanderlust would be a liability, because Americans care more about the economy than foreign affairs. But the normal rules don’t seem to apply this year, largely because Obama’s predecessor left the nation’s world standing in a shambles. While Republicans may be tempted to criticize Obama for being “intercontinental,” as Bush would have put it, “the ability to change the way America is viewed is powerful,” a senior Obama adviser said Thursday, “and they are afraid of looking petty.”

Polling by the Pew Research Center at the end of Bush’s presidency found that 70 percent of Americans thought the country had become less respected in the world (only 5 percent said “more respected”), and most of them thought the decline in standing was a major problem.

“Repairing our image overseas was an important consideration for the public,” said Andrew Kohut, the poll’s director. Americans have given Obama credit for a “dramatic improvement” in the nation’s standing, he said.

Here’s an alternative thought for Milbank to consider. The reason the “normally querulous opposition” isn’t saying much, and, in fact, is complaining he isn’t gone enough (fall of the Berlin wall) is when he’s gone he isn’t here mucking things up. Or more succinctly, it’s to their advantage to have him gone.

On a separate subject, my theory as to why he’s going so much has to do with his realization that he is in over his head and as his poll numbers and popularity sink here, he seeks a narcissistic boost elsewhere. One of the main reasons, as some have theorized, he didn’t go to Berlin is there wasn’t enough about him in the program. Of course that didn’t stop him from inserting a totally irrelevant fact that when the wall fell those there at the time wouldn’t have imagined the US would have a president of “African descent” in office in his two minutes speech. What that had to do with anything is beyond me but it is another indicator of how self-absorbed the man is. On his Asian swing, as with his other visits to foreign countries, he will indeed be the center of attention. And, of course, issuing apologies as for the US as is his want, he can’t help but be more popular than a predecessor who didn’t do that sort of thing.

Whether the new “standing” we supposedly enjoy means anything at all really isn’t explored in the Milbank column. Apparently if that new standing is based on contempt (and the popularity of a US leader who panders too it) rather than respect, that’s fine – just so the numbers are “better” than they were previously. Because that means all kinds of important things to America – like more jobs, a better economy, a resolution on Afghanistan and much, much more.



18 Responses to It’s Bush’s Fault Obama Is Traveling So Much

  • If Bush left our standing with the world in shambles, what should we make of a President who has as awful a track record as Obama?  Only if we measure our ‘standing’ in empty platitudes and lack of fear (or respect) can we say that Obama has repaired our international image.  What good, aside from an occasional pat on the back, have we gotten in return for Obama’s Big Apology Tour?

  • IOW, our attitude should be “God keep the Czar…away from us”.  Okay, I can agree to that.

  • Ms. Milbank, name one thing Obama’s image fixing for the US has gained us.  Name one.

  • Who is “the world”?

    Our inter-national standing depends on our ability to be an honest broker from the roles of economic superpower, status quo superpower, and guarantor of strategic peace.

    First prerequisite: That we jealously protect and defend our sovereignty within the sovereign state system. It is the sovereign state system whose status quo we preserve and whose strategic peace we guarantee. That role came to the United States by virtue of what it is, and there is no other nation or entity that can play it, or that “the world” would want playing it.

    It is also in our own self-interest to do it well. That is the era that we live in.

  • The world always loves a weak America. Look, in any situation you want the respect of the respectable people and the rest can sod off.

    I feel very sorry for the people who still act as if the global popularity contest means something. I guess they never got over not sitting at the cool lunch table in junior high.

  • I wonder how Dana Milbank thinks Germany, France, England, Israel, and our other allies think of Obama.  I expect they see the real shambles.  Rarely has a push your allies way and bring your enemies in close been a viable foreign policy.
    Milbank has remarkable ability to miss the obvious and focus on his own extraordinary theory.   Hooves, Horses, Zebras.

  • … issuing apologies as for the US as is his want.
    Think it’s more his “wont” than “want”; figure that the stroking he gets for doing it is his “want.”
    Petty, I know, but you don’t often get a chance to be a pedantic schmuck and mock Obama’s pathetic need for attention in one comment.

  • Polling by the Pew Research Center at the end of Bush’s presidency found that 70 percent of Americans thought the country had become less respected in the world …

    What the hell does that mean???  How do Americans know what people from Afghanistan to Zaire think of our country???  They might as well take a poll of Americans to find out how many think that Iraqis think that Afghanis think that Pakistanis think that Imeme has helped improve our image among female Muslims age 17 – 34.

    What the poll indicates is that MiniTru did a bang-up job over the past eight years convincing everybody, through a steady bombardment of negative stories, that Bush and Co. were the epitome of evil: when Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld weren’t PERSONALLY ordering our men to torture innocent Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, they were PERSONALLY ordering them to torture innocent people in Gitmo.  When they weren’t ordering us to invade countries to steal their oil for PERSONAL gain, they were PERSONALLY ordering our troops to flush Korans down the john.  O’ course, they also PERSONALLY orchestrated the 9-11 attacks, setting up poor Osama as the scapegoat.  Natch, EVERYBODY in the world hated them and, by extension, the United States as a result.  And, o’ course, EVERYBODY in the world absolutely LOVED America before Bush illegally installed himself in office.


    Now we’re reaping some of the bitter fruit from those seeds in the form of a president who actively debases and humilates us around the world.

    Congrats, America: people “like” us more.  Feel better now?

    • They don’t “like” us enough to actually help where they’re needed though…

    • The world pretty much felt the way they did about country before Iraq as after.
      The press just decided to let us in on it because it aligned with the pressure they wanted to apply to the WH at the time.  The only other thing that may have been different is that Iraq gave them something to focus on that people in the US could relate to.

      • jpm100The world pretty much felt the way they did about country before Iraq as after.

        My point exactly.

        I recall a few anecdotes from a modern European history course I took a few years ago.  One was a photo of anti-America riots in France ca. 1952 in protest of our imperialist, capitalist, war-for-oil in Korea, and the alleged use of bio weapons against the innocent Red Chinese and North Koreans by that well-known war criminal Matthew Ridgeway.

        Another was a few paragraphs about European protests against Coca Cola (!) shortly after World War II, and particular Austrian protests against a Coke factory in their country which they believed was a secret A-bomb facility (!).  This, of course, shortly after US troops helped liberate Europe from the nazis and while US ships and planes were bringing tons of food, clothing, medical supplies, and cash into Europe under the Marshall Plan.

        I don’t expect or demand people around the world to love our country as most of us do.  I don’t expect them to do our bidding.  I don’t expect them to fall down and worship every American who happens to visit their own countries.  And I’m certainly not about to sacrifice our country’s security, interests or prestige because MiniTru tells us that some lefty Euros don’t like what we’re doing or who is in the White House.  I want our country to be a good friend when we possibly can, but above all, I want our country and people to be kept safe.  If that means offending some lefty sipping espresso and re-reading Das Kapital in a cafe in Paris or Berlin or Rome or London, so be it.

  • I think the whole wide world watched the Obama campaign on TV, rooted for him, attended his overseas campaign rallies, and possibly even donated money. So, I would say, even assuming Bush did some damage, it does not require Obama to personally visit all of the neighbors.
    I don’t think the opposition has made a point out of his travels because a global economic crisis + 2 wars might mean some travelling.
    Plus, Obama is a good manager of his time, for example, after his grueling two days of meetings with Gen. McCrystal in Afghanistan, he swung by Copenhagen for a 20 minute meeting with the IOC on the tarmac to push Chicago’s bid through.

  • Seriously, why does anyone care what the “world” thinks of us?  Guess what “world”.  If the US dropped out, meaning taking all their troops out of the various “world” locations and said the hell with you, call us if you need us, the “world” would be shitting bricks the size of the One’s ego.  I’m not a Bush fan, but this the “world” likes us better crap is the nadir of political thought.   That was one of Bush’s plusses.

  • One might be tempted to see how highly esteemed the US has been throughout the past 100 years, particularly in Europe. The results would not be surprising.
    Hint: that “upstart” bunch of cowboys…
    Hint#2: late to WWII, but too early to the “war on terror”, as they cave in on every front.

  • Our image overseas during the Bush regime was so bad that emmigration to the US, especially from Islamic countries, dropped to almost zero.