Remember When Obama Was Going To Heal The Rifts With The World? Yeah, About That

Remember this quote as delivered to Obama from TOTUS?

The Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago. If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time. It’s important for us in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step. (Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008)

How’s that working out? Not well, as even Jackson Diehl on the editorial page of the Washington Post can figure out

I recently asked several senior administration officials, separately, to name a foreign leader with whom Barack Obama has forged a strong personal relationship during his first year in office. A lot of hemming and hawing ensued.

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One official mentioned French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is scheduled to bring his glamorous wife to the White House residence this month for a couples dinner with Barack and Michelle Obama. But in France, Sarkozy’s bitterness toward Obama, the product of several perceived snubs, is an open secret, reported widely in the French press. In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September Sarkozy appeared to mock Obama’s signature disarmament initiative, saying “we are living in a real world, not a virtual world.”

Angela Merkel’s name also came up: Obama and the German chancellor, I was told, share a down-to-business pragmatism. But Merkel, too, has been conspicuously cool toward Obama ever since he made Berlin a stop on his 2008 election campaign. She stopped him then from appearing at the Brandenburg Gate and was said to be miffed last November when Obama didn’t show for ceremonies celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Anyway, diplomats say that Merkel has a much warmer relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No one named Gordon Brown. That’s fairly remarkable: The relationship between the sitting British prime minister and U.S. president has been consistently close over the past 30 years. Think Reagan and Thatcher, Clinton and Blair, Bush and Blair. But Obama has been portrayed as dissing Brown ever since he presented him with a set of DVDs as a gift during their first meeting in Washington a year ago. Last fall the British press reported that the White House had turned down five requests for Obama to meet Brown one-on-one at the United Nations or the G-20 summit.

No matter what one can say about Bush, he charmed many world leaders, and had a good working relationship with even those who had a different political opinion than he did. Even those who slammed him. He understood that world diplomacy was not about Bush, but, about the interests of the United States, and, that when push came to shove, it was “just business.” Obama treats everything as personal and being about Obama. For him, he seems to believe that meeting POTUS is a privilege, ergo the idiotic gifts to Brown’s and the Queen, blowing off the British press, a poor relationship with Sarkozy, and blowing off Germany for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Things did not go very well for Obama when he went to Germany for the WWII remembrance ceremony, where he managed to annoy, well, everyone.

Bush made friends with leaders all over the world. Remember the dancing he engaged in during a visit with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Africa? Remember his great relationship with Israel? He had an excellent relationship with Putin, a wise decision. Bush took the time. He perhaps attempted to charm world leaders too much at times, but, he tried. Obama can hardly be bothered to pick up a phone, and he and his administration have made gaffe after gaffe, offered insult after insult. Someone needs to explain to President Neophyte that international diplomacy is about political interests, not about himself.

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