The World's Thrill Is Gone Too
Chris Matthews might be the only person left in the whole world who still has a tingle running up his leg when he hears Obama.
When presidential candidate Barack Obama swept into Europe in 2008, television screens showed massive, adoring crowds. But the latest TV images from abroad are far more ominous: mobs in the Muslim world besieging U.S. embassies, torching American flags and even burning Obama himself in effigy.
The two sets of images show a gap between aspirations and reality: A president who is popular overseas has not managed to radically transform America’s standing in the world through the illuminating force of his biography or personality.
For many Democrats, the promise Obama held in that regard was part of his appeal in 2008 — a rejection of the jingoism of George W. Bush’s presidency in favor of a cosmopolitan newcomer. And Obama himself fueled those hopes.
“I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently,” Obama told New Hampshire Public Radio in 2007. “If I’m reaching out to the Muslim world, they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country and, I may be a Christian, but I also can understand their point of view. … I’m intimately concerned with what happens in these countries and the cultures and the perspectives that these folks have, and those are powerful tools to be able to reach out to the world.”