The following passage from Barack Obama’s speech to Latin American leaders will be one of those Rorshach tests for political perspective. Those who hated the Bush administration enough will applaud it; those who think America is usually wrong will cheer; and the rest of us will shake our heads:
I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time.
While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.)
There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration.
Obama’s apologizing for being dictatorial … to Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and the Castros. As for “dictat[ing] our terms,” we used to call that defending American interests. When negotiating, people try to get the best terms for themselves. We didn’t send gunboats to Venezuela or Bolivia during the Bush administration, and the only people seizing assets over the last eight years have been the Venezuelans under Chavez.
Once again, we have the new President embarking on the “We Suck ’09” tour, kicked off in Europe, where he felt the need to apologize for the last administration’s efforts to defend America’s interests on the international stage. Obama likes to call this “smart power” and tells us we’ll get more by appearing humble than by pursuing our interests in the normal fashion. So far, the rest of the world has applauded Obama’s performance — and gone on to reject our requests for economic cooperation, combat troops for Afghanistan, partnership with Russia against Iran, and North Korean continuation of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks without launching long-range missiles over Japan.
Buy the T-shirt for the tour, folks, but don’t be too unhappy if they run out. It looks like we’ll have a “We Suck” tour in 2010, 2011, and 2012, too.