GET POLITICAL with VIC LIVINGSTON (Opinion) 'Obama Audacity Tour' Wows 'Em Abroad, Accentuates the Negatives at Home
• Barack ignored key factor: voters at home decide elections
on bread-and-butter issues -- not on bread and circuses
• Europeans, their leaders, and media aren't 'deciders'
Presumptuous and self-aggrandizing.
That is the way people on the fence may be inclined to view Obama's foreign jaunt.
I can just hear them on the barstools at the local joint: "Hey Barack -- didn't you forget something? Like, THE ELECTION?"
Fact-finding in Iraq and Afghanistan and visiting the troops would have sufficed, and would have rendered moot the concern that Obama lacks the standing to be a player on the world stage. Remember the original rationale for the trip: Obama hadn't been in the war zone for some time, and he needed to renew his Mideast bona fides prior to the fall campaign.
But to play "Mr. President" in European capitals -- and to have the chutzpah to deliver a cult-of-personality- like paean to the masses (in Germany, of all places), just gives his critics at home another chance to call him out on his hubris -- and for being politically tone-deaf.
That's right; his Berlin speech won over the German crowds (not a bad thing to see Europeans wave the American flag instead of burning it), but the only people at home who came away really impressed were those already sitting in the pews of the "Church of Barack the Blessed Savior." For people still unsure what to think of this talented but self-absorbed young man -- the Reagan/Hillary Dems, the independents, the fed-up Republicans -- Obama came off once again as an eloquent but calculating grandstander who puts style over substance.
Far better it would have been had Obama quit the journey after the trips to the war zone. Then he could have avoided the charges of premature self-congratulation, and come back home to rail against the Republicans on the key issue upon which he stands the best shot of beating John McCain -- the economy.
Obama also would have better positioned himself to regain the confidence of the disillusioned among his flock, the former supporters who see him equivocating on core principles and key issues such as: FISA/wiretapping/telecom immunity; gun control; expansion of the death penalty; and the separation of church and state.
It wasn't that he shouldn't have gone abroad; he just should have stopped after Afghanistan and Iraq, when he was still ahead.
If he had, he wouldn't have fallen victim to what may have been something more than a simple misunderstanding: the supposed mix-up over whether a planned side-trip to visit wounded troops in Germany would have been considered electioneering.
Apparently, Obama blindly accepted that interpretation from the Pentagon -- and then was roundly (and predictably) criticized for ignoring the troops. A "Segretti-Rovian surprise"? Who will ever know?
Of course, most of the Obama cheerleaders will gauge the trip by how it went over with foreign leaders and the faithful -- but they're not the ones Obama needs to win over to take the White House.
So give the week of Obama's Great Foreign Adventure to McCain. It was Obama's to lose, and he did -- because once again, he "pulled an Obama."
The definition: acting presumptuous and self-aggrandizing, to the detriment of one's substantial talents.
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