Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Obama the Magic President

In near history, the temptation is to compare the current president to super-flake GW Bush. Obama's rave reviews from his first overseas adventure as President is a case in point. Whether Obama accomplished much on his extended trip is intentionally over-looked by the fact that he did not embarrass the nation as GWB ritually did on his junkets.

Let us make it clear that expectations for these presidential oversea trips are low. Nearly all signed and joint statements are pre-negotiated. The ensuing press circuses are at best publicity stunts when events go right or, an embarrassing showcase for ineptitude as they were for eight years of Bush. GW Bush was like unstable wine: he did not travel well.

Frankly, the effusive positive press coverage of Obama's trip made me cringe. Those pundits or reporters who correctly pointed out that Obama failed to have the Europeans pony up to his idea of an international stimulus package or put more bayonets on the ground in Afghanistan were batted down on the spot. There was almost a cabal of SPEAK NO EVIL OF OBAMA.

There was a sharp exchange between CNN reporters, one English and the other American, over whether the G-20 final document contained language that could eventually lead to international regulation of US markets; the language existed, open to interpretation, but the American refused to discuss the issue as the Englishman continued to tweak him. Apparently for the American journalist, reality was not permitted to enter Obama's magic kingdom. My sense is that international regulation of off-shore bank deposits, tax havens and hedge funds are on the way.

Obama's press conferences and speeches were adroit performances. Other international leaders were equally as skilled, but not as over exposed. But when it came to charisma, Obama had no peers.

I was particularly surprised that Obama put himself through the town meeting at Strasbourg. It seemed unnecessary; he was hoarse and appeared fatigued. The audience did not seem to follow the proceedings in the arena and most questions were asinine

If there was one underlying theme to Obama's demeanor and public appearances, it was PLEASE LIKE ME; sure, he was searching for respect, but there was a cloying quality to his presentations that too willingly accepted self criticism of America's past to ingratiate himself with them in the future. As he matures in his job, he will discover that his opponents will magnify the evil in his confessions, but deny him goodwill for his candor.

His initial goofy, over-the-top, and failed pursuit of bipartisanship with the Republicans in Congress should have shocked some sense into him and curbed the later exuberance in the self incrimination of his country on the world stage... Good intentions are twisted by enemies.

Domestically Obama's bailouts, stimulus packages and now, his massive budget authorization has caused him to run out of runway for an economic takeoff; he still has banks that will not lend money, but pay executive bonuses and stock and bond holders with federal funds. His latest ploy is to fire private management to force changes. This is an empty threat as these people receive million dollar severance packages. He cannot blame Bush for his latest misfires on the economy.

He still can blame Bush internationally for the economic crises and misguided wars, but his failed domestic economic policies and his recent approaches on Iraq and Afghanistan will make this international trip the last time he can do this – these wars now belong to Obama. Without cutting expenditures for these wars, he is locked into future high inflation and steep devaluation of the dollar.

At least Obama talks a good game and has a public relations advantage based on his speaking ability, and on hope that constrasts significantly to the lack of other realistic alternatives by the Republicans. This advantage may be working more overseas, but at home it is wearing thin. His magic tricks are over. He says, WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. Is that so, Mr. President? Prove it. Start by ending the occupation of Iraq. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


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