Clarice's Pieces: Restoring American Stature Abroad

With his characteristic inability to carry his thoughts to a logical conclusion, President Obama seems to have missed that his constant denigration of his own country and apologies for its actions (which, in fact, require none) diminish not just the USA, but its leader, as well. Apparently, he thought such conduct would make him appear greater than us, when, in fact, it only reduces his own power abroad. So the man we were told by his supporters would restore American stature abroad has diminished our standing and his in one stroke. He seems not to understand that in cutting us down to what he thinks is America's appropriate smaller place on the world stage, he has turned himself from a lead role into a supporting actor, or even worse, a bit player.

As Obama and his party suffered an historic defeat at the polls, he and the first lady hied off to Asia in an obvious attempt to change the subject. Maybe he did change the subject, but not as he expected. The topic is now how he's run out of chips and allies both at home and abroad. Aside from his narcissistic attempt to single himself out above the nation he represents, why has he proven such a flop abroad?

(a) No one's paying attention to details

Sometimes, pictures do convey things better than words. This picture of this first lady in Indonesia with the president and Indonesia's prime minister tells us a great deal if we study it carefully.

Yes, Michelle Obama looks tacky and ill-dressed. So badly decked out that a rear shot of the threesome makes it look as if she hastily threw this pantsuit over a sleeveless dress she'd worn elsewhere during the day -- as she might have had this mosque visit been an afterthought or the protocol about appropriate garb been ignored. Yes, she looks angry and uncomfortable, but there's more. Keep looking and you'll see a White House in utter disarray and a president who has allowed his wife to be publicly discomfited and humiliated.

As is customary when visiting a mosque, the Indonesian leader, Barack, and Michelle are shoeless. As an insult to her, the carpet spread over the hot, sharp bricks they are walking on is wide enough for only two people. It would be rude for Michelle to walk ahead of the two men, it would diminish her to have her walk behind them, and doubtless it would be a diplomatic gaffe if the Obamas walked together behind or in front of their host. So we have a picture of the first lady, poorly garbed, hobbling barefoot over hot, sharp bricks while her husband and the host smile and chat in comfort on the carpet. Any reasonably adept advance team would have prevented this by making sure the first lady received the respectful treatment of a place on the carpet or an invitation to another event. After the fact, one wonders, assuming this was an unanticipated breach of etiquette, why the White House allowed these pictures to be taken and released.

Just another sign that no one's in charge and no one pays attention to details, from the president on down.

The trip was altogether unpleasant for Michelle, I should think, because the Indian press was fairly brutal about her clothing choices. And so halfway through her husband's term, she is learning something about the style press -- at least abroad: A woman's rave reviews for style on the fashion pages depend largely on her husband's favor in their eyes. I don't think it will be long before the national press starts to get honest about the First Lady's often bizarre fashion picks. When the Washington Post's Robin Givhan says it's time for Michelle to drop the ammo belts, you'll know Obama has lost favor with the chichi left.

Just another sign that no one's in charge and no one pays attention to details, from the president on down.

Bigger goof-ups followed on the Asian trip.

(b) He is being swayed by the rent seekers in his party, not the nation's best interests

  1. South Korea

Former President Bush negotiated a deal with South Korea. All Obama had to do was travel there and sign it, and he could have claimed (however falsely) the credit. The UAW thought the agreement wasn't green enough for them and asked for and got some last-minute changes. It might have served the UAW's interests to get these "green" changes, but apparently the South Koreans felt the last-minute changes were not to their liking. No deal. No photo op showing how the lightbringer is uniting the world. In fact, a bad sign that the various protectionist forces in his own party are forcing out the free traders with likely terrible consequences for a battered world economy. With no clearly articulated philosophy of international trade except caving in to various interests who back him, it is natural that neither the nation's nor the world's best interests will be served in the remaining two years of Obama's term.

  • (2) The G-20

Obama may be the last standing believer in the G-20 in Keynesian economics as the rest of the world shifts away. The adults at the G-20 regardless of the political suasion of their leaders -- Britain, Germany, China, and Brazil -- acknowledged that debt reduction was the first step in dealing with the global economic crisis. Obama, instead, insisted that more money be spent to "stimulate" the world economy -- money that at home has not stimulated our economy and largely gone to pay off his friends and supporters. Things got so bad that others, including China, a large holder of U.S. debt, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan accused the U.S. of deliberately weakening our currency to gain competitive advantage.

Tom Maguire has the last word this week:

IT'S ON TO THE NEXT TRIUMPH!  Obama explains his latest successes:

Setbacks aside, Obama claims stronger global hand

YOKOHAMA, Japan - President Barack Obama claimed a stronger hand on the world stage Friday despite electoral defeats at home, failure to get a free-trade agreement with South Korea and lackluster international support for his get-tough policy with China on trade and currency disputes.
A few more strong hands like this and we will be out of chips.

America's standing abroad will not be restored until Obama is out of office, a fact that is now crystal clear.
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