THE FADING PRESIDENT – AT 9:57 A.M. ET: My friend, Iranian rights activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, refers us to a superb column by Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens, on the declining international influence of the president of the United States:
No U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has come to office with more global goodwill than Mr. Obama; no U.S. president since Jimmy Carter has been so widely rebuked.
Consider the record. His failed personal effort to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. His failed personal effort to negotiate a climate-change deal at Copenhagen in 2009. His failed efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran that year and this year. His failed effort to improve America's public standing in the Muslim world with the now-forgotten Cairo speech. His failed reset with Russia. His failed effort to strong-arm Israel into a permanent settlement freeze. His failed (if half-hearted) effort to maintain a residual U.S. military force in Iraq. His failed efforts to cut deals with the Taliban and reach out to North Korea. His failed effort to win over China and Russia for even a symbolic U.N. condemnation of Syria's Bashar Assad. His failed efforts to intercede in Europe's economic crisis. ("Herr Obama should above all deal with the reduction of the American deficit" was the free advice German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble offered this year.)
In June, the Pew Research Center released one of its periodic surveys of global opinion. It found that since 2009, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. had slipped nearly everywhere in the world except Russia and, go figure, Japan. George W. Bush was more popular in Egypt in the last year of his presidency than Mr. Obama is today.
It's true that these surveys need to be taken with a grain of salt: efficacy, not popularity, is the right measure by which to judge an administration's foreign policy. But that makes it more noteworthy that this administration should fail so conspicuously on its own terms. Mr. Obama has become the Ruben Studdard of the world stage: the American Idol who never quite made it in the real world.
And finally, please read this:
I tend to think that the buzz about American decline mistakes the mediocrity of the president for the destiny of the nation. But we have an election on, the outcome of which will decide whether one man's mediocrity becomes a whole nation's destiny. Mr. Obama is now the world's leading has-been, trying to revive a career on the strength of a talent that was greatly exaggerated to begin with. But a country that's willing to reward mediocrity with a second chance risks becoming a has-been itself.
COMMENT: Wonderfully said. Obama does not see America as an exceptional country. He sees it as a problematical country that needs to be spanked. In this he appeals to certain self-selected members of the "intellectual" class, which prides itself on being positioned above the unwashed masses, especially those "flyover people" between New York and Los Angeles.
We can do much better as a nation. That is one of the key messages that Romney/Ryan must deliver.
August 28, 2012