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Pragmatic, humble, rational -- how much more unlike George W. Bush can you be?

Initial reviews are in from President Obama's big trip, and it seems that most observers just can't get over how much things have changed.

Michael D. Shear and Kevin Sullivan write in The Washington Post: "President Obama concluded his inaugural overseas tour Tuesday after presenting to the world a starkly different image of the United States than his predecessor had...

"Throughout his trip abroad, Obama portrayed a proud but flawed United States, using a refrain of humility and partnership in an attempt to rally allies around such issues of mutual concern as the global economy, climate change and nuclear proliferation."

David E. Sanger writes for the New York Times: "Pragmatic, conciliatory, legalistic and incremental, he pushed what might be called, with a notable exception or two, an anti-Bush doctrine.

"There was no talk of pre-emption, or of the American mission to eradicate tyranny.....

"'This trip was more about reattaching all the cars on the train and convincing the other leaders that we're no longer headed for derailment,' one of Mr. Obama's senior advisers said in London."

John F. Harris and Eamon Javers write for Politico: "He is Obama the rationalist.

"A diverse set of Obama decisions in recent days have a common theme: a leader who sees himself building a more orderly, humane world by vanquishing outdated thinking and corrupting ideology.

"With a rapid series of major announcements and rhetorical gestures, the new president has done more than turn from Bush-era policies. He has shined a vivid light on his philosophical outlook on the world — and how starkly he differs from his predecessor on basic beliefs about power, diplomacy and even human nature....

"An administration that believed in the primacy of force has been replaced by one that believes in the primacy of dialogue. A president who believed his main job in the world was to robustly assert American interests and values, even if it offended allies, has been succeeded by one who believes his main job is to gently coax and nourish communities of interest in which other nations will regard the United States as a friend....

"Conservatives are calling Obama naïve, arguing that his belief in rationalism and community is hardly realistic in a world driven by murderous hatreds and all manner of nations angling remorselessly for military and economic advantage."

The White House itself is amplifying the change theme.

Jonathan Weisman writes in the Wall Street Journal: "Obama aides describe the last eight years under President George W. Bush as a period of strained international relations and low public opinion toward the U.S. Putting those relations back on a positive trajectory was reason enough for the voyage, said Denis McDonough, a deputy national security adviser.

"Mr. McDonough said U.S. foreign policy in the Bush administration amounted to a search for silver bullets: If Iraq could be turned into a stable, democratic ally, the entire Middle East would be transformed. If the U.S. walked away from the negotiating table, North Korea would see the error of its ways and drop its nuclear program. This trip marked the return of 'consistent, persistent engagement,' he said."

Jennifer Loven writes for the Associated Press: "Between Obama's outreach to local students at town halls in France and Turkey, as well as speeches and well over a dozen private meetings with individual foreign leaders, aides felt the president established a new-sheriff-in-town vibe."

Not too much happened in Iraq yesterday after I filed my last post of the day.

Steven Lee Myers and Helene Cooper write in the New York Times that "with a hint of impatience in his words, he urged Iraq's leaders to unite the country's deeply divided ethnic and sectarian factions and to incorporate them all into government and security forces."

Here's the transcript of Obama's remarks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"I remain convinced that our shared resolve and commitment to progress is greater than the obstacles that stand in our way," Obama said.

He added that "we strongly support political steps to be taken to resolve differences between various factions within Iraq and to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous future. Again, we've seen very good progress, but going forward it's absolutely critical that all Iraqis are fully integrated into the government and the security forces."

Ernesto Londoño writes in The Washington Post: "In sharp contrast to the previous U.S. presidential visit to Iraq, in December, when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush, many Iraqis spoke approvingly of Obama on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Peter Nicholas and Mike Dorning warn in the Los Angeles Times that Obama may be traveling too much. "[N]ext week, with barely time to pack fresh shirts and refuel Air Force One, he's off again -- first to Mexico, then to a summit meeting in the Caribbean.

"It's the sort of thing that can get a political leader into trouble, jetting out of town while the home front suffers."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 8, 2009; 12:44 PM ET
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"It's the sort of thing that can get a political leader into trouble, jetting out of town while the home front suffers."

"Now watch this drive."

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 8, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Bush's foreign policy was guided by Rove's axiom that all politics are local.

Keeping that in mind, one can see that every appearance, every speech on foreign soil given by Bush, Cheney, and Rice were delivered for domestic political gain, not for the purpose of advancing diplomacy.

Posted by: bfieldk | April 8, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Pragmatic, humble, rational -- how much more unlike George W. Bush can you be?


How about the ability to get results? Consider this, for all the heaping of praise on our "Dear Leader" he got no further NATO commitments on Afghanistan, the EU will not turn their printing presses on to make more stimulus as Obama has directed our treasury to do no one will take Gitmo prisoners, and Russia is still not backing off on its neighbors to shut our access to critical airbases.

Heck of a job Brownie.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 8, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

And lets not even mention how truly repulsive his performance in Turkey was:

Insisting that America's always guilty, Obama omitted any mention of Turkey's wartime betrayals of our troops, its continuing oppression of its Kurd minority or the AKP's determination to turn a state with a secular constitution into a Wahhabi playground.

When it came to the Armenian genocide, Obama bravely ducked: He never dared use the g-word.

And Obama's disdainful remarks about

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 8, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse


Your response is great, when i got to the "Now watch this Drive" quote i spit up my coke it was so funny...

Posted by: rharring | April 8, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama might not be Bush when he's abroad courting the world, but he sure is Bush here at home. His administration's judicial proclamation that Bush's illegal wiretapping activities are just fine with them, thank you, and please don't expect them to provide any sunlight on the government's dark world of spying in its citizens.

Just move along,'re on a need-to-know-footing, and you don't need to know what we're doing.

Posted by: bushisawarcriminal1 | April 8, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Getting the Europeans to call us an ally and a friend was quite a lot for just the first meeting. It's not like those states themselves are in agreement over what to do about the economy, and they're all even warier of war than the American public is now. Even some token gestures are much better than nothing. It means the door is open to further dialogue, and greater action. It's no mystery that the European states have done little or nothing to pull their weight in NATO, aside from letting us maintain forward bases near Russia/the Soviet Union. So their minimal troop commitment to Afghanistan hardly comes as a surprise.

Nevertheless, it does represent a reversal of the trend under Bush.

Furthermore, should Russia continue to assert itself nationalistically against Europe, I think we'll see a rapid closing of the ranks among EU and NATO states, especially if Obama continues to be conciliatory. I think Obama is doing exactly the right thing: laying the groundwork for future cooperation. It's not necessary to build the Colosseum in an afternoon.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 8, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

pundits "warn in the Los Angeles Times that Obama may be traveling too much"

There they go again!

Posted by: troyd2009 | April 8, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Now Now, Calm down. Just to actually be able to understand the president is a blessing. If it takes him longer than the former president(Mr. Liar in Chief) to get things done, then I'm willing to wait. After all, what is the alternative? Marshall Law?

Posted by: sailorflat | April 8, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The comments from Politico were overstating the obvious. Yes, we now have a thoughtful, eloquent President who understands the complexity of major issues. Amen. But in the long run, politics is as much street fight as chess game and social skills. For Obama to continue stearing away from the Bush legacy, he's going to have to have a spine of steel and show the canniest horse trading sense with Congress, big business and the security apparatus imaginable. His task ahead is truly Herculean, and his adversaries will exploit every mistep and cause all the distraction possible. Thankfully, Obama seems to sense when to duck and dodge the mud and defuse the vitriol. Yes, it's good to have an A student who plays ball instead of a C student that cycles and cuts brush, so we can be reasonably impressed with his first two months.

But if an analogy can be allowed, our hero has barely left the Shire. And when the big guns teach him the real rules of the game, he may have to compromise just as much as his Democratic predescessors. But beware, for as somebody less smitten with political adroitness once suggested: "Government is nothing more than the shadow cast by big business."

Posted by: russgeer | April 8, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Peter Nicholas and Mike Dorning appear to think that in this age of globalization America's domestic issues are disconnected from the world at large. If I was in charge of the LA Times these two clowns would be filing their unemployment compensation papers right. Really though, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that what happens in China or London affects Main Street USA and vice versa. Besides, they obviously think that it is impossible to walk and chew gum at the same time, so on behalh of all Americans who have to multitask between work, family, health care, and bills I say fire them.

Posted by: OIFVet | April 9, 2009 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Traveling too much? Give me a break. Bush spent more time vacationing during his 8 year tenure than any other president in history. In total, Bush spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at his faux Texas Ranch where he claims to have gotten the biggest thrill of his entire presidency by catching a fish. Obama would have had to take nearly a month of vacation already to just be on track to match Bush.

Posted by: Trip1Helix | April 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

My Pet Goat wants to talk to SSP about incompetence, macho posing, and the nature of truth and reality. Maybe you all can go cut brush in Texas.
This was Obama's first date with the Euros, and considering that fact he did pretty good, say, second base. They had to keep Bush chained up so he wouldn't molest Merkel after that one time. Maybe that's how they roll in the GOP, they talk about date rape frequently, but usually only in terms of domestic policy.
Is Obama screwing up on the Torture issue? Yeah, prolly, and the same with the bank bailout. But what is clearer now is how incompetent the previous administration was in this arena, like in every other. Having conservatives question the abilities of this administration is hilarious and pathetic, considering. Teleprompter? See Bush's earpiece, through which his electronic brain could talk for him.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | April 9, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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