I missed this last week, but it’s just as good a week later. Nine days ago, Barack Obama asserted that under his leadership, the world had “a new attitude … confidence” in America, and you could see it everywhere he went:
Of course, world tours tend to only bring Presidents into contact with diplomats (and Obama has pointedly not visited Israel in four years, either, which can hardly be described as more confident in American leadership these days). On the other hand, when presidential candidates meet with foreign leaders, they hear something entirely different — which Romney heard on the same day Obama offered up his take:
Australia’s foreign minister privately warned Sunday that foreign leaders see “America in decline,” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said.
Romney said he met with Foreign Minister Bob Carr in a San Francisco hotel Sunday night shortly before a Republican fundraiser.
He said Carr suggested that America could improve that international perception “with one budget deal” that helps balance the budget.
“And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting [Carr] said that; he led the talk of American being in decline,” Romney said at the fundraiser, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “And if they’re thinking about investing in America, entrepreneurs putting their future in America — if they think America’s in decline they’re not gonna do it.”
Later, Carr tried to clarify his remarks:
Foreign Minister Bob Carr and other Australian officials said Monday that Carr was praising American economic strengths during Sunday’s meeting. The meeting was kept secret until Romney shared Carr’s comments with donors later in the day.
“He said America is just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline,” Romney said, while addressing roughly 250 donors at San Francisco’s Fairmont hotel. “I said, ‘Can I quote you on that?’ and he said, ‘Yes.'” ..
“The foreign minister’s remarks represent a considered assessment of the U.S. economy and an antidote to talk of U.S. declinism,” said Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to the United States.
He said Carr has identified increasing U.S. energy competitiveness and continued inventiveness coming from Silicon Valley “as a sound base for the next progression in the U.S. economy.”
Perhaps Carr did mean this as “an antidote to talk of US declinism,” but he wouldn’t have had to offer it had the talk been, as Obama suggested, of “confidence” in the US. And it’s worth pointing out that the only explicit marketplace measure of American strength — our credit rating — has declined under Obama, the first time that has happened in over 90 years.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!