Obama's Foreign Trip: Yes, He Should

07/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • John Ridley Emmy-Winning Commentator and Writer for Esquire

As to be expected the McCain camp has derisively reduced Barack Obama's overseas trip to the Middle East and Europe as a "political stunt."

Perhaps. If one were to except all other politicians being political in a political season.

But even at that, the trip is no more a political stunt than, say, John McCain in Iraq standing among 100 American soldiers and below three Black Hawk helicopters and two Apache gunships so that he could then declare that folks back home "are not getting the full picture of what is happening (in Iraq)."

Brother, you got that right.

And after the Colombian hostage rescue was it not political when Joe Lieberman announced before a blushing John McCain that their receiving of a briefing of the mission was a "sign of confidence of President Uribe and the defense minister in Senator McCain"?

But to the point, why shouldn't Barack Obama take a "political" trip overseas? According to FairVote.Org, there are anywhere between three and seven million U.S. citizens living abroad at any one time. Yeah, the vast majority of people who turn out to see Obama will be nationals of those countries. But doesn't Obama -- or any other candidate for that matter -- have the right to engage Americans wherever they may live?

And doesn't a guy who is essentially running for the office of leader of the free world have a right and responsibility to engage the world? If Obama -- as we've seen him do in black churches -- doesn't just tell the world what it wants to hear, but what it needs to know (not solely what we will do for them, but our expectations of their responsibility in our new partnership) than the trip will be well worthwhile.

The Right can't have it both ways on this one; they can't hector Obama about not traveling the world, then carp when he does. They certainly can't refer to a politician's travels as being political. That label is as obvious as it is inaccurate. What the trip is, is necessary.

We need to see Obama on the world stage before the election, the world needs to see what kind of leader America will have after the election. Should Obama take the trip?

Yes, he should.