The result was a trip more dominated by imagery -- some positive, some controversial -- than substance. A photo of Mr. Obama bowing deeply to the Japanese emperor has stoked indignation among conservatives in the U.S. Pictures of Mr. Obama staring down at his lectern as Chinese President Hu Jintao lectured him on free trade left the impression of a U.S. leader who was frustrated but powerless.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It's kind of funny, I suppose, the reaction that the naysayers of the right wing have expressed with regards to the now-concluded trip to the Far East by President Obama:
Factually, true. Obama did bow his head to the Japanese emperor...just as Richard Nixon did.
And it is true that Hu did lecture the United States on free trade...in response to wholly unnecessary and dangerous tariffs slapped on Chinese tires. Obama's misstep, or at least mistimed step, should have been noted by Hu. Protocol demanded it, and let's face facts: China has gone from the eighth largest economy to the fourth in the space of this decade alone, and is poised to overtake the United States by 2015.
Only the European Union would be a larger economic entity. The United States enjoyed much of the 20th Century dictating world economics. It's only right that the largest have the biggest voice, so to expect suddenly that we'd enjoy some outsized voice when China overtakes us (which is inevitable) is ludicrous. It would be like the US suddenly decide that England must have the larger voice after World War II.
What is most notable about the Hu lecture is...it didn't relieve the tariffs. For that alone, Obama should be credited, for standing his ground on an issue he feels is important enough to piss off a country that holds an awful lot of our paper.
To expect Obama to come home with a goody basket on what amounts to a first date to the APEC conference is pretty silly. It's like expecting your date to put out on the first date when you are no longer in college and are no longer the first string quarterback or the head cheerleader.
It's called maturity. Obama didn't come home with his clothes dishevelled and lipstick all over his face. He came home with a quiet smile and a phone number or two.
And this is all against a backdrop of a world community, particularly in China and Asia, that didn't trust the United States after electing that jackass tall-hatted faux-cowboy...twice!
His work was hard enough considering the economic crisis, global warming (which affects Asia far far more than nearly any other region of the world), and the simultaneous spike in poverty and hunger these twin crises have created. He had to start from his ten yard line (to torture the metaphor further) and with only ten players on his team.
I'll settle for the field goal. This time.
Posted by Carl at 11/19/2009 09:00:00 AM