Barack Obama ran for president promising to win back the respect of “the world,” which George W. Bush has alienated. So the big question is this: How long after Obama’s inauguration will it take before “the world” begins to sour on him—begins to suspect that he is one of us, not one of them?
The answer is minus 16 days.
On Sunday, January 4, the website of London’s Guardian published a column by Simon Tisdall faulting Obama for failing to side with Hamas in its war against Israel:
Obama has remained wholly silent during the Gaza crisis. His aides say he is following established protocol that the US has only one president at a time….
But evidence is mounting that Obama is already losing ground among key Arab and Muslim audiences that cannot understand why, given his promise of change, he has not spoken out. Arab commentators and editorialists say there is growing disappointment at Obama’s detachment—and that his failure to distance himself from George Bush’s strongly pro-Israeli stance is encouraging the belief that he either shares Bush’s bias or simply does not care.
The Al-Jazeera satellite television station recently broadcast footage of Obama on holiday in Hawaii, wearing shorts and playing golf, juxtaposed with scenes of bloodshed and mayhem in Gaza. Its report criticising “the deafening silence from the Obama team” suggested Obama is losing a battle of perceptions among Muslims that he may not realise has even begun.
Back home, however, the press was still pro-Obama—and giddily so. Roger Cohen of the New York Times got into the mood in his January 14 column:
This 47-year-old man of mixed race, whose very name—O-Ba-Ma—has the three-syllable universality of a child’s lullaby, has always had something of the providential about him, a global figure who looks more like the guy at the local bodega than the guys on dollar bills. That’s the magic.
Two days earlier, Mike Lupica of New York’s Daily News spoke truth to power:
He does not get sworn in as the 44th President for another eight days, but it is as if Barack Obama, the only one who can get us out of this mess, is running the country already. Because they have already started in on him.
It is still business as usual in Washington at a time when our economy, a direct result of business as usual, feels like the real terrorist threat these days.
Obama is a new beginning at a time we need a new beginning as much as we have in nearly 80 years. We finally have a President we want to believe in, a President who again feels like the smartest guy in the room. Yet, before the game even begins, he sees what he will be up against…
So sweet was Obama’s honeymoon that on January 4, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin observed that journalists were “deferential, eager to please, prepared to keep a careful distance”:
The Obama news conferences tell that story, making one yearn for the return of the always-irritating Sam Donaldson to awaken the slumbering press to the notion that decorum isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The press corps, most of us, don’t even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who’ve been advised they will be called upon that day.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?