President Obama took his massive ego and sparse historical knowledge to
Asia last week. The results were so ugly even the New York Times took
notice. "Obama's Pacific Trip Encounters Rough Waters," was its headline
news analysis Thursday.
"Has a president ever been less successful on a trip overseas than
President Obama has on his eight day excursion to Asia?" asked Fred Barnes of the
Weekly Standard. "I've been covering presidents since Gerald Ford and I
can't think of one."
The trip began at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Singapore
where Mr. Obama declared himself to be America's first "Pacific president,
" on the grounds that he was born in Hawaii, and lived for a couple of
years as a child in Indonesia.
Mr. Obama either forgot - or never knew - that William Howard Taft had
been governor-general of the Philippines before becoming president, or that
Richard Nixon - who spent more time in the Pacific in World War II than Mr.
Obama spent in Indonesia - was responsible for the opening to China.
At the APEC conference Mr. Obama acknowledged he will be unable to obtain
the international agreement on curbing so-called greenhouse gases he has
sought. This is good news for the United States, but a setback for him.
From APEC Mr. Obama went to Japan, where he startled his hosts and many of
his countrymen by bowing low to Emperor Akihito.
The bow, an academic expert on Japan told Jake Tapper of ABC News, was "in
the form of a first year English teacher trying to impress with Karate Kid
-level knowledge of Japanese customs.
"The bow as he performed it did not just display weakness in Red State
terms, but evoked weakness in Japanese terms," Mr. Tapper's expert said."
The last thing the Japanese want or need is a weak-looking American president
and, again, in all ways, he unintentionally played that part."
The most important stop on the president's itinerary was China, where
things went worse for him than they had in Singapore or Japan.
"When it came to China, President Obama's famous powers of persuasion
failed to persuade," wrote Barbara Demick in the Los Angeles Times. "Not
only is the U.S. president coming away without definable concessions, but the
Chinese appeared to be digging in their heels."
Mr. Obama had sought three things in China. First, he wanted Chinese
support for sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. Second, he wanted China
to agree to curbs on fossil fuel emissions. Third, he wanted China to
agree to a more realistic value for its currency. He got stiffed on all
The most important of these is the currency issue. China pegs the value
of the renmimbi artificially low in relation to the dollar to boost sales of
its exports. This essentially mercantilist policy (against which Adam
Smith railed in "The Wealth of Nations") makes it harder for us to sell things
to the Chinese, and for our economy to recover.
What Mr. Obama received was a lecture on the danger of U.S. budget
deficits, and criticism of the protectionist policies his administration has
Mr. Obama was treated with less respect than were Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush when they visited China.
"He acquiesced as the Chinese subjected him to the humiliation of a
choreographed town hall meeting with student members of the Young Communist
League," Mr. Barnes wrote. "And he suffered through a 30-minute news
conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao in which no questions from the media
To date, the Obama foreign policy has consisted of efforts to appease
America's enemies and to bully America's friends. Neither has worked.
In remarks reported Wednesday, Iran's foreign minister said he opposes
sending uranium out of the country, effectively putting the kibosh on a deal
the Obama administration thought the Iranians had agreed to.
"Iran has very publicly played President Obama for a fool, faking their
way through negotiations that were a farce from the get-go," wrote the Weekly
Standard's John Noonan.
Mr. Obama seems oblivious to the shambles about him. "I've restored
America's standing in the world," he told CNN Wednesday.
He may be the only person on the planet who thinks so.