The Barack Obama administration wants to paint the tour of Europe as a rousing public-relations success, but as Newt Gingrich points out, that’s not the reason Presidents travel. Greta van Susteren refers to the trip as Obama’s “semester abroad,” getting a chuckle from Newt, but Gingrich says this could have value as a learning experience. Greg Hengler has the video at Townhall:

Newt’s not alone in this analysis. Jackson Diehl wrote much the same thing for the Washington Post in the middle of the trip. Diehl objected to Obama’s abandonment of the American agenda from the start, and wondered when Obama was going to act on behalf of the US rather than simply acquiesce to everyone else.

Gingrich makes a good point here. Two previous presidents had similarly rocky starts. John Kennedy realized how badly he’d bungled and improved later. Jimmy Carter remained convinced of his own brilliance and continued to bungle foreign policy; in fact, Carter has never changed an iota in almost 30 years since Ronald Reagan replaced him. These experiences can be object lessons for a president, assuming they don’t believe their own press and acknowledge their failings.

Which one describes Obama? I know he’d prefer to think of himself as a new JFK, but somehow, I don’t see him acknowledging failures. I’m betting Carter, especially since they have remarkably similar outlooks on foreign policy. JFK would never have appeared in France — a country thousands of Americans died to liberate — to apologize for American arrogance.

Tags: Barack Obama