PRESIDENT Barack Obama would make foreigners appreciate us, if he did nothing else. Americans would finally be liked. Obama, we kept hearing, would appear sensitive to other cultures in which populations had grown tired of unworldly presidents with the old American superiority complex.
When Obama traversed the globe in 2009, then-Newsweek editor Evan Thomas told us how fortunate we were. Obama's ability to respect other-than-American views, said this ranking member of the mainstream national press, made him bigger than Ronald Reagan.
“Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it,” Thomas told Chris Matthews on MSNBC. “Obama is ‘we are above that now.' We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial.”
In case Matthews and Thomas hadn't said enough about Obama's sophistication and global sensitivity, Thomas reminded listeners that Obama isn't burdened by the constraints that make mere mortals parochial, chauvinistic and provincial in the eyes of the world.
“I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above — above the world, he's sort of God,” Thomas said.
As Time magazine explained last week, The Great Divider's promise to restore America's image as “that shining beacon on a hill” has failed.
“Worldwide supporters of the fugitive former NSA employee Edward Snowden have depicted him as a heroic crusader against a nefarious surveillance state reminiscent of the East German Stasi,” the Time article stated. “The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution critical of the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay ... Recent polling shows America more unpopular than ever in Muslim countries, enraged by Obama's heavy reliance on drone strikes against suspected terrorists. Though occasionally cooperative, Russia and China are content to speak about America with borderline hostility. Even a bite-sized nation like Ecuador is thumbing its nose at the U.S. over Snowden's fate.”
Time reassured us things might get better as Obama visits Africa, where “he is basking in the love of one of the most pro-American regions on earth.”
Wishful thinking. Obama spoke recently in Senegal, where he implored Africans to learn from a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that eases restrictions on same-sex marriages.