I’ve been neither an Obama-basher nor an Obama-gusher. Since he is President of the United States, we all have a tremendous stake in the success of his policies and initiatives. But I don’t seem to be alone in experiencing concerns.
Today’s New York Times editorializes on Mr. Obama’s China trip. And, though it cautions against “premature” complaints, the thrust of the piece seems to comprise a litany of laments. For example:
But publicly, Mr. Obama pulled his punches on China’s exchange rate, saying only that Beijing had promised previously to move toward a more market-oriented rate over time. Despite its indebtedness, the United States has the world’s largest economy; Mr. Obama should have nudged Beijing to move faster. We hope he did so privately.
We were especially disappointed that China made no discernible move to join with the United States and other major powers in threatening tougher sanctions if Iran fails to make progress on curbing its nuclear weapons program. President Obama should have made clear in his private talks that the United States and Europe will act anyway if Beijing and Moscow block United Nations Security Council action.
It was also dispiriting that Mr. Obama agreed to allow China to limit his public appearances so markedly. Questions were not permitted at the so-called press conference with Mr. Hu, and his town hall meeting with future Chinese leaders in Shanghai not only had a Potemkin air, it was not even broadcast live in China. It’s obvious that the last thing Mr. Hu wanted was to get questions about issues like his brutal repression in Tibet and Xinjiang. That doesn’t explain Mr. Obama’s acquiescence in such restrictions.
Dana Milbank, in Thursday’s Washington Post, was more blunt:
Listening to President Obama and his Chinese counterpart this week, it was hard to tell who was Hu. One is the leader of a great democracy. The other is the head of a repressive regime. But as the two men faced reporters in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Obama deferred to the wishes of President Hu Jintao: They would not take questions. In lieu of this rite of freedom, the two leaders exchanged platitudes.
Finally, the father of a passenger on one of the flights of 9/11 had this to say in today’s Wall Street Journal, regarding the recent appearance of the Attorney General before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Mr. Holder said that he and his boss had not spoken in person about this decision. This matter only involves upholding the constitutional rights of Americans, establishing a precedent with battlefield impact, and the safety and security of our citizens in a time of war. What are the criteria to make something a priority with President Barack Obama? How can it be that this matter didn’t make the cut?
At the risk of sounding like Jimmy Carter, do the polls manifest a mounting malaise?