While evidence mounts that Americans are souring on President Obama, the road of adoration abroad has turned extremely rocky as well.
When then-candidate Obama addressed a frenzied Berlin crowd at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate in 2008, reports put the audience at over a quarter of a million. The attendees were beside themselves to hear the potential next United States President address the masses with his electric rhetoric of hope and change.
Last week, seven months into his second presidential term and a full five years after his 2008 speech in Germany, Obama was back in Berlin in an attempt to recreate the magic and bolster his image abroad. This was a speech without any major policy proposals, and quite obviously lacked the flair and gusto that accompanied his famous address from before.
The speech was largely forgettable. Conservatives criticized it as pointless pontificating, and a meaningless attempt to gin up public support abroad to counteract approval ratings souring at home. Liberals largely ignored it, not wishing to draw attention to an underwhelming event that could hardly be spun in the president’s favor.
What’s worse, for Obama at least, is that his visions of grandeur went incredibly unrealized. All reports put the attendance for Obama’s speech at around six to eight thousand, an extreme depletion from the crowd that filled the entire neighborhood and surrounding community in 2008. Last week, it was empty bleachers and a largely unenthused crowd. The pictures contrasting the attendance then and now serve as a stunning and appropriate reflection of just how far Obama has fallen from favor internationally.
In short, Obama has lost his clout with foreign countries. He no longer garners the respect and admiration he once enjoyed. Early in his presidency, his popularity overshadowed his complete inexperience in foreign relations and granted him the benefit of the doubt with our diplomatic allies. This is no longer the case.
A March Gallup poll revealed that both confidence in Obama and favorability towards the U.S. has declined throughout Europe and the Middle East, and in most other parts of the world. Since 2009, Obama’s own favorability in Europe has dropped more than 11 points, 13 points in the Americas, and 15 points in Africa. Over the 130 countries polled from 2009-2012, the average U.S. favorability rating dropped nearly nine points.
This hit to his popularity is manifesting itself in very real ways; both China and Russia have refused to hand over criminal Edward Snowden, the NSA hacker who fled the U.S. and is possibly sharing classified information with countries that don’t exactly love and admire America. These aren’t the first examples of his shrinking popularity internationally, and if the trend continues, it won’t be the last.
In 2016 when it’s time for Americans to consider just what type of candidate makes a good president, we must take this experience with President Obama into consideration. And realize that perhaps more than flashy rhetoric is needed to govern effectively, at home and abroad. This is a fact that should cause most Americans to consider just what type of candidate makes a good president, and that perhaps more than flashy rhetoric is needed to govern effectively, at home and abroad.