I understand why John McCain's campaign is desperately looking for negatives in Obama's overseas trip. But why have so many in the media internalized the McCain campaign's claptrap?
Here is the McCain line on Europe, delivered via Politico by a nameless campaign aide: "I don't know that people in Missouri are going to like seeing tens of thousands of Europeans screaming for The One."
And here was Gloria Borger on CNN, responding to Wolf Blitzer's assertion that Obama seemed to be on top of his game by pulling out the Straight Talk talking points (and leaving logic and rational thinking in a pile on the studio floor):
...as the McCain campaign points out, he can't appear to be seen as running for the president of Europe. He's going to be really cheered in Europe, he's going to give a huge speech. He's going to have a lot of support there. But he's running for the president of the United States. And so they have to walk a very, very fine line here because they don't want to be seen having too many adoring people after him in Europe because he's running for president of the United States.
What do Borger and the McCain campaign think would play better in Missouri, Obama getting off the plane in Germany and having the locals throw tomatoes at him? Would that endear him to the people in Middle America -- who, in McCain World, are like an insecure girlfriend, panicked by just the thought of someone else finding their guy attractive?
Sadly, this absurd line of thinking is spreading fast. Here is the L.A. Times' Michael Finnegan:
In Europe, where he is highly popular, Obama plans a speech in Berlin on U.S. relations with allies. He will probably find a warm, even rapturous, reception -- which poses its own challenges. 'There's such a thing as being too popular overseas,' said [William] Galston, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. 'And that may create some misgivings here at home.'
The Baltimore Sun's Washington bureau chief Paul West ominously warns: "European adulation for Obama will make him the continent's poodle."
And even Maureen Dowd appears to have bought into the McCainites' Euro-phobia, suggesting Obama "can't be seen as too insidery with the Euro-crats" lest Obama-wary Americans "wonder what he's doing there, when they can't pay for gas, when the dollar is the Euro's chew toy, when Bud is going Belgian and when the Chrysler Building has Arab landlords." And don't forget all those German cars on our roads. Which we can't afford to drive because gas is too expensive (for which, according to McCain, we can blame Obama).
Of course, at no point does the McCain campaign or anyone in the media point out what, exactly, is the danger to America if our closest allies actually, you know, don't hate us.
They also fail to mention that along with being our allies, the European countries Obama is visiting are also democracies -- so it's a lot easier for their leaders to make nice with us if their constituents don't view our president as an object of disdain and ridicule.
And, as Jason Linkins points out, George Bush keeps giving them reasons for ongoing disdain and ridicule. As does McCain. Is it really better for America's standing in the world to have a president who doesn't know that Czechoslovakia no longer exists and who thinks there is a border between Iraq and Pakistan?
Iraq has shown us what an essentially go-it-alone war looks like.
And the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan -- resulting in more U.S. troop fatalities there in May and June than in Iraq -- is a tragic reminder of the consequences of a U.S. military spread too thin, and of not having our allies fully backing our efforts.
Given a recent poll showing the German public prefers Obama to McCain 67 percent to 6 percent, it's no surprise that McCain would try to spin his opponent's popularity there as a black mark on his record. It's also no surprise that McCain isn't willing to admit that our allies' antipathy toward Bush and his policies -- exacerbated by the contempt the Bushies always seemed to delight in directing at them (see Rummy on "Old Europe") -- has cost us dearly in blood, treasure, and goodwill. But it is a surprise that the media are so eagerly parroting the "popular is a problem" meme.
Thankfully, most Americans understand that having a president who is lauded around the world is infinitely better than having one who is loathed.
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