Obama flops on trade in Japan

posted at 9:21 am on April 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Normally, state visits by US presidents follow a carefully prepared script, even more carefully prepared than on Chicagoland. Open issues only get broached if a resolution has already agreed upon by lower-ranking envoys, lest the Commander-in-Chief end up with egg on his face during his foreign-policy tour. It’s not that there is a lack of issues where Japan and the US currently agree, either, even while the open-trade agreement that has languished for years is unresolved. And yet, Barack Obama made it a point to highlight the lack of a deal on trade in his remarks in Tokyo:

While failing to seal a deal on his ambitious plan to expand trade in the Pacific Rim, President Barack Obama on Thursday said a long-stalled trade pact still can be finalized if Japan opens its markets and accepts more U.S. exports of everything from cars to farm goods.

“That’s my bottom line, and I can’t accept anything else,” Obama said at a news conference in Tokyo.

After meeting privately with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the president said that “important progress” had been made in trying to wrap up the deal, adding: “I continue to believe we can get this done.”

The issue, according to McClatchy, is the competing tariffs on auto sales, grains, and meat products that restrict trade between the two industrial giants. If we want to sell more ag products in Japan, we will have to lower tariffs on cars, and then enforce open-market agreements so that Japan doesn’t cheat on pricing. Needless to say, this requires stakeholders in both nations to either grudgingly agree to support the deal or to at least stop agitating against it. Neither the auto industry here nor the ag interests in Japan apparently have reached that point — so why bring it up at all, especially on a trip where the President already looks more like a tourist than a world leader?

That’s not just my assessment, but also Dana Milbank’s. He wrote his criticism on Wednesday before this flop:

The seven-day, four-country Asian tour promises to be an excellent adventure for the president. He’ll visit the Meiji Shrine in Japan and dine with the emperor. He’ll visit Gyeongbokgung Palace in South Korea and lay a wreath at the National War Memorial. In Malaysia, he will attend a “royal audience” and visit the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur. And in the Philippines, he’ll check out an electric vehicle, place another wreath and enjoy his third state dinner.

But one thing is missing from the president’s otherwise exciting itinerary: making news. The one hope for a breakthrough on the trip — an announcement of a trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership — fell through. National security adviser Susan Rice said work will continue in the “coming weeks and months.”

Obama will have the requisite news conferences with foreign leaders, although questions are likely to be about Ukraine. Rice described the purpose of the tour in vague and airy terms: “This is a positive trip with a positive agenda that underscores that the United States’ commitment to this region is growing, and is a cornerstone of our global engagement and is going to be there for the long term.”

Nothing is wrong with an American president spreading goodwill and eating good sushi, but the photo-op nature of the trip risks contributing to a perception that Obama’s Asian policy, and his foreign policy in general, is similarly itinerant. He’s seeing the sights, getting some good pics and moving along — more tourist than architect of world affairs.

Michael Auslin notes for the Daily Beast that Obama did manage to look a little more like a world leader in Tokyo on another topic, but that it’s not likely to instill confidence in our allies abroad. He set another red line, this time over the Senkaku Islands, which Obama asserted would come under the existing mutual-defense pact between the US and China. Auslin isn’t terribly impressed:

[G]lobal bullies have shown the president’s red lines to be drawn in pencil, not ink. Syria and Russia ignore the White House with impunity, while North Korea broke its only agreement with the Obama administration. Meanwhile, Iran’s leadership proclaims it will never give up its nuclear program even as it keeps the Americans tied up in negotiations.

Perhaps President Obama’s threats are simply seen as no longer credible. Beijing may well decide that the president offers little but rhetoric. In that case, it is not a question of whether the United States has the means to deter Chinese aggression (we do, for now), but whether President Obama has the will. If the leaders of revisionist or disruptive states are betting that the White House will shy away from any real confrontation, then they will embrace aggressive opportunism when the chance offers itself.

In the case of China and Japan, that could lead to the largest clash in Asia since Vietnam. The two have no relations of trust, and the trend line has shown that they are unwilling to solve their dispute peacefully. The worst outcome would be if President Obama’s promise actually worsened the situation in the East China Sea rather than stabilize it. That would truly test U.S. resolve and credibility.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. This, however, demonstrates the massive damage that Obama did in drawing a red line in Syria while failing to build the requisite political support to act when it got crossed. Syria, Russia, and China may have concluded that the US now speaks loudly and carries no stick at all — and that will make the world a very dangerous place.


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He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Nothing is wrong with an American president spreading goodwill and eating good sushi, but the photo-op nature of the trip risks contributing to a perception that Obama’s Asian policy, and his foreign policy in general, is similarly itinerant. He’s seeing the sights, getting some good pics and moving along — more tourist than architect of world affairs.

It’s mind-boggling that the liberals/media in this country continue to think they are going to get something different from obama.

He’s been a tourist his entire life. He’s not going to change now.

HumpBot Salvation on April 25, 2014 at 9:28 AM

“How do you get the guy inside that thing?”

-Bark

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Obama’s narcissism undercuts him once again.

You’d think he’d start getting the message that just because he utters something, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. He’s had enough failures in this department that you’d think a Harvard grad would learn something.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:29 AM

It’s almost as if he has no experience negotiating deals, being an executive or getting things done. But that can’t be right. I mean what kind of an idiotic electorate would make such an imbecile their leader?

SoRight on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

A WHITE ROBOT.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

“That’s my bottom line, and I can’t accept anything else,” Obama said at a news conference in Tokyo.

What an Idiot! He is an amateur who has never been held responsible or accountable for anything in his life, and his stupid idiotic Chicago Thug Wannabe comments prove it.

He really needs to go back to strong arming banks to makes “loans” to people who wont ever be able to repay them.

Johnnyreb on April 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Is that robot doing a black-face minstrel number?

claudius on April 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

A WHITE ROBOT.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

His white half betrayed his black half.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Russia,China,N.Korea,Syria and the Muslims have strong leaders.If they banded together we might have to learn to speak several languages besides Spanish.With this guy in charge they just might do it.

docflash on April 25, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Hey, Obama didn’t bow to the robot! He just checked the robot’s butt.

Rix on April 25, 2014 at 9:38 AM

When you’ve lost TIME Magazine…

Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures Are Proving His Critics Right

Drained Brain on April 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

There’s somebody very small in that picture…

Ricard on April 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

“That’s my bottom line, and I can’t accept anything else,” Obama said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The Japanese just told you to pound sand so now what, champ, hand out photos of yourself nibbling on sushi?

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Obama flops on trade in Japan

Is there anything that he doesn’t totally suck at?

bigmacdaddy on April 25, 2014 at 9:43 AM

There’s somebody very small in that picture…

Ricard on April 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Yeah the black dude standing next to the robot. This trip was supposed to be some sort of foreign policy victory lap with trade agreements and state visits that don’t included negotiations with rebel factions. When the trade deal went belly up, the trip should have been postponed (citing unrest in Ukraine or something).

And why wasn’t this trip coordinated with the Yeti taking the brats on a no-press-allowed trip to China?

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:43 AM

The Japanese just told you to pound sand so now what, champ, hand out photos of yourself nibbling on sushi?

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Selfies with that robot.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:44 AM

The Japanese just told you to pound sand so now what, champ, hand out photos of yourself nibbling on sushi?

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:40 AM

He couldn’t even get that right. He only ate half the sushi, an insult to the chef.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Is there anything that he doesn’t totally suck at?

bigmacdaddy on April 25, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Spending American tax dollars on vacations.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Beijing may well decide that the president offers little but rhetoric.

Well, Yes!

But don’t worry. More commemorative Obama rhetoric will one day soon be available on commemorative Obama iPods.

Nostalgia – it’s just another name for Obama words we remember together.

dissent555 on April 25, 2014 at 9:46 AM

He couldn’t even get that right. He only ate half the sushi, an insult to the chef.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

My guess that is all the Yeti would let him have.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:46 AM

My guess that is all the Yeti would let him have.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:46 AM

An alpha male would have chimed in “Who’s President in this family?”.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

He couldn’t even get that right. He only ate half the sushi, an insult to the chef.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

I’ll bet Bark doesn’t even like sushi, but the metrosexuals and hipster freaks who comprise his base do and so he had to appear like he’s into it.

Shades of JFKerry lightly nibbling on a Philly cheesesteak, the man wanted to barf out the peasant food he was consuming but he put on a brave show.

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Asimo meets Asihole…

PatriotRider on April 25, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Does Obama bow to ATMs?

“You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.” – Obama

Electrongod on April 25, 2014 at 9:53 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot. Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

And said, “If you like your CPU, you can keep your CPU.”

Akzed on April 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Pretend President, with a pretend policy. Getting pretend results.

The new normal.

Worst thing a foreign leader can hear from King Barack; “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back!”

GarandFan on April 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

He ate only half of the finest sushi in the world prepared by the most renown sushi chef in the world…

This is a personal slap in the face to the chef and a cultural slap to the Japanese people..

PatriotRider on April 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Shades of JFKerry lightly nibbling on a Philly cheesesteak, the man wanted to barf out the peasant food he was consuming but he put on a brave show.

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

You forget the most important part of that story. Kerry, in South Philly asked for a cheesesteak with swiss cheese.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Asimo was totally safe, Aibo on the other hand was on the menu.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Shades of JFKerry lightly nibbling on a Philly cheesesteak, the man wanted to barf out the peasant food he was consuming but he put on a brave show. Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

He looked like he was trying to eat a crap sammich without getting any in his mouth.

Akzed on April 25, 2014 at 10:02 AM

He drew the red line, and he can draw another line, and another…

A line in the sand is soon washed away by the tide…new Japanese proverb…

right2bright on April 25, 2014 at 10:02 AM

A WHITE ROBOT.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Japanese are racist – libfree

22044 on April 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM

You forget the most important part of that story. Kerry, in South Philly asked for a cheesesteak with swiss cheese. Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:57 AM

And tomatoes. They’re only on the menu so management knows who to keep an eye on.

Akzed on April 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

A WHITE ROBOT.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Bammy bows to anyone (or anything) he thinks is foreign, regardless of color.

Remember when he bowed to the mayor of St. Petersburg FL, because he thought she was foreign? He’s such an embarrassing d-bag.

AZCoyote on April 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

To be fair, had he not, Robot Pai Mei would have collected his head, and then come over here to finish the job.

Steve Eggleston on April 25, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Yeah, hard to imagine Tokyo feeling protected by Obama’s red line. Japan has disputed islands with just about every country near it. The more Obama fails, the more confident they’ll be about setting up shop there, whether it’s fishing or oil.

TPP is a huge deal to the Japanese, but Obama could care less. That’s why he can be absolute in negotiations.

In other words, useless trip. The sushi thing isn’t a big deal. It really isn’t. But if someone else was picking up the check for me there…..forgettaboutit. I’d be all over that. Keep ‘em coming!

Dongemaharu on April 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

The Japanese just told you to pound sand so now what, champ, hand out photos of yourself nibbling on sushi?

Bishop on April 25, 2014 at 9:40 AM

He couldn’t even get that right. He only ate half the sushi, an insult to the chef.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Rather than sushi, had they been big fat brats, he would have sucked them all down…

oscarwilde on April 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Uno mas, por favor.

That programmed white robot dances better than Obama’s brack arse.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:11 AM

the President already looks more like a tourist than a world leader?

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Saying the dopey President looks like a tourist is an insult to tourists……. I’d say the clown looks more like a cartoon character….. and with them BIG JUG EARS…. that cartoon character would have to be Mickey Mouse ….. Too Bad he don’t have the mouses intelligence.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on April 25, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Remember when he bowed to the mayor of St. Petersburg FL, because he thought she was foreign? He’s such an embarrassing d-bag.

AZCoyote on April 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM

LMMMMMMFAO!

Bright, clean, articulate..a real storybook man!

hahahhahhhahahhaa!

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Yeah, hard to imagine Tokyo feeling protected by Obama’s red line.

Dongemaharu on April 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Which is why that cute little robot is only a prototype. The army of the production model will be 12 feet tall with lasers!!!

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Saying the dopey President looks like a tourist is an insult to tourists…….

donabernathy on April 25, 2014 at 10:11 AM

All I’ll say is that for an Ivy League educated man who has a reputation for being brilliant…….. Well, he’s one dumb bunny.

He doesn’t know that Hawaii isn’t in Asia.

He doesn’t know there is a difference between the Maldives and Malvinas.

He pronounces corpsman as corpse-man.

He doesn’t know what year it is. Not the date, the year……….etc.

These are not the hallmarks of a highly intelligent well-educated man.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Spending American tax dollars on vacations.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

I stand corrected.

bigmacdaddy on April 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM

… which Obama asserted would come under the existing mutual-defense pact between the US and China Japan

acasilaco on April 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Ed’s point about Obama bringing up the TPP seems odd. It was a top item on the agenda. I’m not saying Obama showed great courage in doing so; but it seems like the kind of thing that if he took the opposite track, he’d be equally deserving of criticism. Prime Minister Abe, despite his three-pronged policy and majorities in Parliament, still isn’t able to move Japanese business on long-standing policies.

Sort of off topic, except for the fact that Obama is now in Korea, but is anybody else getting tired of the parents of the drowned kids? At some point their grief becomes self-indulgent. It reminds me of the 911 families, who were always right no matter what the issue. Indeed, it’s at the heart of the failure of much of our political discourse: an inability to tell victims and “victims” to go take a hike.

bobs1196 on April 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Just a couple of comments as I have lived in Japan for over 12 years now on the stalled trade pact. The idea that the Japanese will not buy American imported cars is ludicrous, it’s our auto makers willful neglect or (arrogance?)to adapt their models to the Japanese market.
At the high end market here you see quite a few Mercedes, BMW’s and Volvo’s on the road. On the lower end you see many VW’s and Mini Coopers. You will also see the rare Jeep Cherokee. There is one reason and one reason only for this. These models come to Japan with right handed steering wheels, as the Japanese drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right.
American automakers, with the exception of Jeep, just refuses to make vehicles tailored for the Japanese style of driving. Does anyone think that Toyota would have ever been successful in the U.S if they refused to sell left handed steering and only sold right handed steering vehicles?
I always have to just shake my head when I hear about how unfair the Japanese are when it comes to opening up to more American auto imports in a trade pact. They would just be stacked up on the docks unsold as long as the U.S auto manufactures makes them with left handed steering and then actually expect the typical Japanese customer to actually want to go and buy it.

sailwind on April 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

This guy is unfit for the Gong Show. Someone grab one of those long handled hooks and drag his azz off the stage already.

What an embarrassment.

Key West Reader on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Terrific,….again,……………..:

American tourist ‘detained’ in North Korea, April 2014
53s
Editor’s note: Reuters is reporting, citing the Korean Central News Agency, that a 24-year-old American tourist has been detained in North Korea. We’ll update when there are more details. – Aaron

canopfor on April 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM

American tourist ‘detained’ in North Korea, April 2014
1m
24-year-old US tourist was detained in North Korea for ‘rash behavior,’ state news agency reports – @BBCNews
read more on http://www.bbc.com

canopfor on April 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Obama is a jinx on every thing he gets involved with.
The press says he is a genius, so he must be doing it all on purpose.

albill on April 25, 2014 at 11:51 AM

An alpha male would have chimed in “Who’s President in this family?”.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Yes, except Valerie Jarrett wasn’t on the trip, to my knowledge.

USNCVN on April 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

…he’s a clueless child!

KOOLAID2 on April 25, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Is it true Obama chipped his teeth kissing that robot’s ass?

JayMac1 on April 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM

This is terribly sad for America. This guy is really a fool on an international stage. The “I’ll work my magic charm on our enemies” is a foolish foreign policy. Don’t forget his travel abroad to get the Olympics in Chicago-EPIC FAIL.

rjoco1 on April 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

If we want to sell more ag products in Japan, we will have to lower tariffs on cars, and then enforce open-market agreements so that Japan doesn’t cheat on pricing.

Would those open-market agreements keep NHTSA from attacking Toyota over imagined product defects while shielding Government Motors from real product defects that have killed people?

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Is it true Obama chipped his teeth kissing that robot’s ass?

JayMac1 on April 25, 2014 at 12:33 PM

I understand the Secret Service had a H of a time doing a background check on the robot before a meeting with Barry.

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Obama’s incapable of sealing the deal and as the article says, he’ll leave the rest up to the equally incompetent Susan Rice to follow through.
This is what happens when the least competent person in the room is elected president.

Obamalies on April 25, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Slick at 1:04PM
Ya beat me to it.
I wonder when (if ever) the Manure Spreading Media will pick up on the obvious differences in how Toyota Motors (totally fabricated issues) was treated as compared to General Motors (real safety hazard and road deaths)?
Our press … find something in any way damaging to King Putt’s Administration?
NEVER!
To the barracades! Smear those Republicans! Look Squirel!

Missilengr on April 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM

He bowed to the friggin’ robot.

Grammar Nazi on April 25, 2014 at 9:27 AM

A WHITE ROBOT.

Murphy9 on April 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Leftover instincts. It is measurably smarter than him and he is mentally compelled to bow to anyone or anyTHING of which that is true…

Not to mention the jokes about anything white being superior to him practically now write themselves.

LawfulGood on April 25, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Neither the auto industry here nor the ag interests in Japan apparently have reached that point — so why bring it up at all, especially on a trip where the President already looks more like a tourist than a world leader?

Because he thinks if he says something, then it will all magically change?

Guess these oceans aren’t swayed by his proclamations, either.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM

“He’s seeing the sights, getting some good pics and moving along — more tourist than architect of world affairs”.

Finally, someone understands why Bark signed on for this gig…even he knows he isn’t capable of doing anything else.

AppraisHer on April 25, 2014 at 9:35 PM