The Obama campaign can’t bear the thought that the well-traveled Mitt Romney will make a nice impression on his overseas tour. So it held today what can only be described as a petulant call with reporters, trying to spin the media that Obama’s trip abroad in 2008 was “substantive.” (If so, it was grossly inappropriate since the country had another president at the time.) Oddly, the spin call’s account of 2008 left out the Berlin speech. Why?
Maybe because it had long inane passages like this: “This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations — including my own — will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.” Thunk. In reality he couldn’t even get the Summer Olympics to come to Chicago.
But there were also cringe-inducing portions like this (those who say Obama never apologized for America should take note): “I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.”
Obama then went on to praise his country, but why the need to run it down first?
The real danger for the Obama team is that the public (to the extent it cares at all about foreign policy) will compare the promise of Obama to the reality. Here he was in 2008: “This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace.” The reality is the “peace process” is dead, Iran moves steadily toward nuclear-weapons capability, Syrians are dying by the thousands and Obama has done nothing for the people of Lebanon.
The worst part of Romney’s trip, from Obama’s perspective, is that Romney is going to Israel, which Obama has not visited since his election. He memorably traveled to Cairo for his big speech but failed to stop by the Jewish state while he was in the “neighborhood.” The Obama team told reporters today that his not going to Israel in the first term was a “distraction,” but Obama would go to Israel in a second term. If it’s important to go then, why not do it in the first term? It’s a sore point with the Jewish community and with other pro-Israel Americans.
And, anyway, why have the conference call to sway the media coverage? It risks coming across as awfully defensive. The Obama team is entirely confident, I guess, that the mainstream media won’t go back to his promises and compare them to his foreign-policy performance. And the Obama operatives are so clueless that they don’t see how the Berlin speech illustrates how an egomaniacal candidate became a foreign-policy flop.