A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Guess who’s back in town today?

Our President is back in the neighborhood.  I hear Lady O. returned yesterday because she missed her girls.  I feel relieved to have the Obamas back.  They did a damn good job on this trip.

The main accomplishment did not have to do with getting our allies to fairly share the onus of an economic stimulus, or allot troops to Afghanistan to fight global terrorism, or even to agree to nuclear disarmament.  No such mutual policies resulted from these meetings.  President Obama’s main thrust for this trip was to somewhat undo the damage to our international friends that Bush had done over the last eight years.

My mother always said, “You catch more bees with honey.”  That is exactly what Obama did this past week.  As if he didn’t realize that some of our European allies, like France and Germany, would not participate in stimulating the global economy by adding their cold cash to the pot, he thanked them for their loyal support.  Furthermore, he thanked Sarkozy for pulling his weight and agreeing to take ONE detainee from Guantanamo.  Additionally, he thanked these yellow-bellied isolationists for their continued support in sending troops to help in our world’s anti-terror fight.

His actions reminded me of his Democratic primary battle with Hillary.  We all kept asking ourselves : why isn’t he fighting back?  How can he just stand there and take her lies?  We  now have our answer.  He valued his honesty and oath to be a decent human being more than he did to participate in vicious repartee.  He would not sacrifice his long-term goals to emotions of the hour.  In the end, he made his point beautifully.

President Obama was a gentleman and a scholar in Europe.  As much as “our friends” refused to give any substantial help to our efforts on the financial and terrorism fronts, Obama thanked them effusively as if they had just offered us the world in unlimited aid.  The heads of states though, stingy and adverse to any joint responsibility, sure were clamoring to get their photo taken with the man of the hour, President Obama.

As atonement for the last disastrous eight years of the Bush doctrine, this humility on Obama’s part was necessary.  He needed to play this role of listener and thanker to show other nations that we are open to different opinions, that his administration is different from that of Bush.  First Obama had to eat a little crow.  Now perhaps, he can go back to these countries and expect to get a little more cooperation from them each time a request is made.  Consider this trip a first patch, a band-aid, to the havoc that Bush wreaked.  This was an exercise in rebuilding foreign relations, in shoring up our foundation of openness, honesty and intellectual viability, not in establishing  new, collaborative policies.  The forging of mutually beneficial diplomacy will come in its own time.  In that regard, this sojourn was a rip-roaring success.

But I missed the Obamas.  I like having them back in the old neighborhood.


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