If you can think back this far, the U.S. populace was down on George W. Bush this time eight years ago in part because he supposedly had alienated our allies by being a go-it-alone cowboy. The remedy for this was to elect the cool guy who gave speeches about how we all have to listen to each other and all that sort of thing.
We did find out, did we not, that there is a huge difference between saying something in a speech and actually doing it? Today America's allies would surely love to have Bush back, since despite what you heard from the media, he did not insult them nor did he disregard their concerns.
As the Washington Post of all sources reports in devastating detail, it's Barack Obama who does all that:
Even before he became president, Obama introduced himself to the world as a multilateralist who aimed to solve the thorny problems of the 21st century collaboratively. “True partnership and true progress . . . require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other,” Obama told adoring crowds in Berlin in 2008.
He followed up that speech one year later in Cairo by quoting verses from the Koran, acknowledging America’s mistakes and calling for a new partnership with the Muslim world “based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Seven years later, the soaring, optimistic language of those early speeches has long since been subsumed by the messy reality of war and diplomacy. Obama has not been able to forge a close rapport with many world leaders.
The president’s cold-eyed view was apparent last year after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly by two militant gunmen. World leaders from Germany, France and Britain marched through the streets of Paris with longtime adversaries such as the Israeli prime minister and the head of the Palestinian Authority. No senior official from the United States marched with the European leaders, prompting a rare apology from the White House.
“I’ve never heard that Obama has a personal relationship with any of them,” said Xenia Wickett, head of the Americas program at the London-based think tank Chatham House. “It is neither hot nor cold. There is no personal relationship.”
For Britons especially, that’s a break from a long history of starry-eyed relationships between leaders across the Atlantic. Roosevelt and Churchill. Reagan and Thatcher. Bush and Blair. Obama, the mixed-race child of a single mother, and Cameron, a stockbroker’s son with royal lineage, have never had the same kind of personal chemistry. -
For all his campaign talk about reaching out with an open hand, blah blah blah, he knows he gets no political benefit when he makes the concerns of our allies a priority. Also, he genuinely doesn't care about them.
Americans might want to take that into account when they pick the next president. It's not about how well a candidate says things, nor is it about how much you didn't like the last guy. It's about a candidate's demonstrated and proven priorities. Obama's priority is himself. Don't pick a new president whose obvious priority is and always has been herself.