Obama honeymoon ends in Europe

March 31, 2009

Robin Shepherd

— Robin Shepherd is Director, International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society. His areas of expertise are transatlantic relations, American foreign policy, Middle Eastern relations with the West, Russia, eastern Europe, NATO and the European Union. The views expressed are his own. —

It is to be hoped that President Obama has a developed sense of humour. The man heralded by many as the new Messiah of political renewal lands in London this week not to the chorus of approval he might have expected on his first official trip to Europe but to crowds roaring with anger and frustration at the global economic system which his country underpins.

It isn’t personal – yet. Few but the most unreasonable would hold the new American president responsible for woes that he inherited. Nonetheless, Obama campaigned on a platform of change. The implicit claim that his election was a grand, indeed poetic, instance of the time finding the man will be explicitly rejected – in Europe as well as at home – if he fails to deliver. We know he can give a pretty speech. But at the G-20 summit in London this week, that simply won’t be enough. For the first time at a major international gathering the blinding lights of international scrutiny will pour over Obama’s credentials on substance. His mettle is about to be tested.

It is true, of course, that there is tremendous accumulated goodwill towards the new American president in Europe. But time may yet show that much of that was merely the counterpoint to a hostility felt by so many against his predecessor. That, at least, is the risk. Obama can no longer play good cop to George Bush’s bad cop. He alone now has the stage, and when people are losing their jobs and homes they will want to see results. As leader of the Western world, the buck stops with him.

What applies to the economy will also apply to the great issues of international affairs. Obama will be given a chance over his new strategy on Afghanistan, though murmurings of discontent are not hard to detect in liberal-Left circles across the continent even now.

The idea that the war is unwinnable is gaining currency, especially in Britain. If, as the veteran political commentator Simon Jenkins put it in the Guardian this week, Afghanistan comes to be perceived as a “Vietnam for slow learners”, then it is Obama who will be handed the dunce’s cap if things do not improve. The president’s sensible and predictable modifications to earlier intimations about a complete and quick withdrawal from Iraq have also raised eyebrows. America’s critics did not die with Bush.

The NATO summit which follows the G-20 will provide a welcome opportunity to grandstand, especially with the re-incorporation of France into the alliance’s strategic command. The new deal with Paris marks an important symbolic turnaround with a country which more than any other symbolised transatlantic rifts under Bush. Obama will bask in it.

But even at NATO, he will have to tread carefully. As relations with the western part of Europe improve, there are rising concerns in some parts that the administration’s mooted new deal with Russia could herald a partial climb down from some long-standing American strategies, not least to expand the sphere of democracy in Europe’s east. Appeasement of Putin and Medvedev is not the kind of change the Poles and the Balts are looking for.

But that, of course, is the nature of the beast. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes it really is a zero sum game, even for a leader with the charisma of Barack Obama.

The honeymoon is definitively over. Obama’s trip across the Atlantic marks the end of his transition from symbol of change to politician with a job to do. In the end, he will be judged like all the rest of them.


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Obama promised change, he did not promise he could wave a wand and make everything better overnight.
It took George W. Bush eight years to get us into this mess and Obama is president, not its fairy godmother.
He has done more already for the good of the country than Bush did in eight years. Bush almost ran the country into bankruptcy. I did not see one line from you about the any foreign country that Bush went to they had to block off some two miles to keep him safe. I did not see one word from you when Bush left the Whitehouse to give a speech it was to a military base where those there had to listen and applaud or at least not say one word or even look disappointed for fear of court martial.
Wake and give the man a chance instead of constance criticism. How would you like if every column you wrote, you would have a guy like giving you a piece of his mind and I do not have much left.

Posted by Carl Justus | Report as abusive

You’re gosh darn right! Proof will be in the pudding and not a label on a pretty box!

Posted by bob | Report as abusive

Based on the track record to date, you underestimate Barack Obama at your own risk.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

If this writer is at a “Director” level, then this Henry Jackson Center is in a world of hurt as the comments are short-sided and some frankly, ridiculous. Go shake hands with your new candidate – Rush! He’ll get the US out of this mess Reagan and Bush assembled in the name of GOP!

Posted by Alan Kilometres | Report as abusive

Ah, I see this article ruffled some feathers! The sad reality is that it speaks of truth. Obama is a polished and charismatic speaker, but that’s it. He has nothing in his backgroud that remotely resembles any qualifications to lead our country – during bad or good times. Too many times we tend to forget his involvement. We’re far too entrenched in a falling economy to look to such an inexperienced person to lead us onto the better times!

Posted by Anne Ryan | Report as abusive

Truth is the economy skated on the good works of Ronald Reagan and his ‘deregulation’ and ideas of market freedom right through H.W.Bush, Clinton, and the W.Bush eras… So to blame all the issues on Bush is like blaming bad weather on Mother Nature. The world benefitted from Reaganomics as well especially Europe. 9/11 and its terrorism repercussions alone had a huge effect on the economy that has not been fully calculated, however you can blame the Iraq war debacle on W if you want a scapegoat.

The problem is Obama oversold the steak and the EU expects to see the sizzle… if there is any. Our selfish shallow culture expects simple solutions to complex problems and is used to the idea that the US is some bottomless pit of goodwill and cash– this is simply fantasy. My personal opinion is Obama is a lightweight, way out of his league, with more rhetoric than substance. The honeymoon will end soon enough of its own reasons.

There has been plenty of selfish greed to go several times around the world in this. Blaming the US is getting to be a bad copout for the rest of the world.

The deficit spending quagmire Obama leaves as his legacy will take generations to fix, if ever, not to mention undoing the harm of his social revisions.

Posted by R. Woodward | Report as abusive

I’m with Carl…its a little early to be passing a judgement on the President’s performance. It seems that everyone is so used to getting things now now now that we need to step back and look at the scope of what we are faced with. It is unrealistic to think that the global economy is just gonna bounce back to where it was in a matter of months(years even). It is unrealistic to try to judge the president on his performance after 3 months in office. Its easy to sit back and criticize and offer opinions when you are not the one behind the reins. I can’t see how anyone would want him to carry on as the last president did…he’s gotta try something else. In all fairness we should be satified that he is making an apparent effort. It would probably behoove us to sit back and be quiet for a while but keep a watchful eye. Its too early at this point.

Posted by Liam Ghallagher | Report as abusive

Your argument makes no sense. First you say that Obama will be welcomed in Europe with “crowds roaring with anger and frustration” then go on to say “there is tremendous accumulated goodwill towards the new American president in Europe.” Those are two opposing views. Which one is your opinion? Why don’t you wait at least until the trip is complete before you assume the goodwill in Europe for the new president has evaporated.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Obama has done more damage to this country in the last 3 months than any other president before him. He has reversed policies without thoroughly reviewing what the policies are first. He is forcing his agenda down Congress and the Senate without allowing the sufficient time necessary to review the bills. Most of the Congress and Senate did not get ample time to read the so-called “Stimulus” bill. Obama is dangerous and as a middle class New Yorker – I pay 38% in taxes already and now he plans to tax me further. Shall the middle class bear all the burden for the unemployed because we work hard? The government can’t manage itself, what makes me believe that the government can STEAL my money and manage it better than I can???? I don’t! I believe the people who earn their own money should see fit to do with it what they want, not what others want. Obama and the non-tax payer Democrats just wants to steal more of my money.

Posted by Middle Class VICTIM | Report as abusive

Barack is a very busy-boy—its true. I think he is paying back quickly the people who invested heavily into his ‘dark-horse’ campaign. But Mr. Obama doesn’t have the persective that this country has been based upon for 200 years that allowed us to prosper and grow to the worlds largest economy. If we are not very, very careful—we will become a 2nd rate nation. And that can happen far quicker than we would like to believe. We are living in a time that could be catastrophic—if we are not very careful to go back to our roots. We need to return to our values—that got us there.

Posted by jim mills | Report as abusive

I don’t get it. Bush has done what no anti-westerners radicals could have possibly dreamed of achieving: destroy the western civilization or take it to a point where you don’t have a voice anymore. And sir,you dare talking about Obama not being able to deliver?
Are you kidding me?

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

Right on target. Obama always has been all talk and no substance. Now America — and the world — is paying for its infatuation with his silver tongue.

Posted by Charles | Report as abusive

Mr. Shepherd is being realistic. When Americans elected Obama, it was like giving tenure to a teacher who only taught formally for 2+ years (including his interviewing process). He lacks experience but has a ton of self confidence – memoire , TV special and all. The more speeches he gives, the more SMUG he becomes. He has the same amount of swagger as president Bush, only he’s not talking about ‘smoking em’ out of their holes’, but rather, ‘ignoring the day to day gyrations of the stock market’. The man has A LOT to prove us. The popularity contest, media-frenzied honeymoon period IS over.

Posted by ErinO | Report as abusive

By their deeds you will know them.

Barack was the biggest bailout cheerleader on the hill. He kicked things off with a huge ‘necessary’ fraud.

Don’t expect anything for you and me from this little orgy of Government and Bankers. How sad that central banks run the whole world in secret and even Americans, who should know better, think they are free.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

I had never heard of “Robin Shepherd” before seeing this blog post.

That he directs anything is not a surprise, considering the recent confirmation that a great number of our managers have turned out to be abjectly unqualified.

Shepherd reveals nothing in his post, beyond a healthy grip on cynicism, and a less healthy fear of optimism.

Here is an idea for you, Mr. Shepherd; let us see the results of Obama’s visit before we condemn it to failure. It is not at all prescient to utter phrases such as “Obama … will be handed the dunce’s cap if things do not improve.” Yes, we know. A better question, Mr. Shepherd, might be; will you hand him his due credit if they do?

My estimation of Barack Obama’s effectiveness is stellar; of Shepherd, not so much.

Posted by Jerry Ulibarri | Report as abusive

You are grossly underestimating the man. You may want to reflect on what you’ve contributed to society over your career rather than his 70 days in office. I doubt your life to date could equal his 70 days

Posted by Bill Falls | Report as abusive

A comment on the conclusion:

Do you honestly believe that President Obama has been enjoying a Honeymoon this whole time?!


Posted by Noah Blinderzawn | Report as abusive

It is difficult to separate the optimism and hopes that I have for this President from the horror of our economic situation. Nobody can say that he has done nothing given trillions in planned spending and an array of special programs.

I do not believe that lack of global cooperation is the cause of our economic crisis. Members of the G20 can draw ponies on their foreheads and dance around like wombats covered with fire ants. None of that tangibly contributes to a resolution although people will seem to get along better.

As far as I can tell, President Obama is pretty much doing everything a president can under the circumstances. We overestimate the ability of the U.S. President to single-handedly deliver world economies from the shadows of death. But the guy is so coherent, so sound in judgement, I don’t think history will look at his performance poorly.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Berlin has a bad track record of giving its support to good orators. They loved Obama on his first trip, and all I want to know is, do you already have your “O” armbands ready?

Posted by Joe Johnson | Report as abusive

Obama won the election as a protest against George Bush. Obama ran a two year campaign without enunciating specifics.

Now that he is in office, more and more Americans are looking and listening to him with dismay. We were angry with Bush for his trillion dollar deficits after eight years in office. We are dismayed that Obama has more than doubled that debt in just 60 days.

The economic fiasco in America is not about policy, it is about debt. Too much debt. And the way out is NOT more debt. But Obama does not care about anything except his agenda. For that agenda the world will pay.

In time, even Western Europeans will see him for what he is, just as Eastern Europeans already suspect. And they too will feel betrayed.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

President Obama has chosen to pursue the “big bang” solution. He has undertaken to solve:
– the financial crisis;
– the automobile industry crisis;
– the housing crisis;
– the economic crisis;
– the health care crisis;
– the education crisis;
– the energy dependency crisis;
– the global climate change crisis;
– the Palestinen-Israel crisis;
– the Iraq crisis; and
– the Afghan-Pakistan crisis;

For a man with limited experience in any job, this is indeed a major undertaking.

He resolutely insists on NOT doing first things first, but to take on all known problems, at the same time.

Even with the aid of his narcissistic mirror, this will be a challenge, that may daunt even the new Messiah.

Posted by Moris Bronowski | Report as abusive

Maybe we should all just back off and give the new President a chance.

He has promised Change, so let’s see how he brings it about and how it might work.

Goodness knows he can’t do much worse than the unholy trio, Bernanke, King and Trichet, who got the world into this mess.

Posted by Paul Battista | Report as abusive

Obama not only ran a 2 year campaign without enunciating specifics, he worked in the senate for 4 years (2 if you count his campaigning time as non-senate) and did virtually nothing. In the Illinois State Legislature he was a “present” vote more than anything else. He’s sat on the fence his whole political career, while using his current position as a stepping stone to his next lofty ambition. Unfortunately, like our housing market, he’s been over inflated over the years with an ever elevated status that’s based on nothing substative. Now that he’s at the top, unable to avoid making decisions, taking stances, and being judged, we’re all going to see very publicly how vapid his career has been and how hollow of a man he really is.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

I have noticed that many people are breaking their silences over Mr.Obama. Of course, there are some people never wish to see a black president. Now, they will try to expose their hatred with justifiable excuses.
I know, the situation is very complicated and there is not a easy answer to it. Truthfully, Obama has no option left. America is in deep crisis and he has no idea how to deal with it. The experts are one sided and situations is global.
Every American should know that American financial institutions are melting, labors are shrinking, export deficit, budget deficit, and only one option left is to print cash…

Posted by Shahin | Report as abusive

I agree with the posters above that there was no mention of the disastrous Cheney/Bush cabal– Bush was a hell of lot more and worse!) than a “bad cop” I second the complaint that no mention was made of the way Bush was “welcomed” during his infrequent trips abroad, or the way he was essentially shunned at his last foreign visit.

Obama’s enjoyed nothing like a “honeymoon” so far. I don’t agree with everything he’s done– I think, for instance his economic policies thus far have been too much in favor of the ruling bank elite– but, as was said above, he’s not a wizard that can magically make the mess the US is in disappear overnight.

Posted by David Goddard | Report as abusive

I dont understand you all. You say he is helping us? This government is leaning towards a new agenda, something far beyond what we’ve seen. But the price is your indentured servitude for “your country”. Forever in debt to foreign nations, private banks and such, I see that we are heading towards a 1984 Orwellian scenario, Obama is the driver. I don’t understand why people get so overwhelmed that he is the president. He alone doesn’t make the decisions. He is influenced by the people around him and they all have a common goal.. New World Government. It seems we have been conditioned into a depression, where a lot of people are sick(mentally, physically) and the whole organism(human species) cannot function as a whole unit.

Posted by Geoff | Report as abusive

Where is the objectivity? Obama has made some hard decisions but I don’t really think there was much choice. For one, if all the large banks and insurers failed the system would have collapsed. Learn about fiat currency and you’ll see why. GW set in motion a system to stop that from happening cause he needed to and Obama has extended that system and successfully stopped the collapse from happening so far. McCain would have done the same (not sure about Palin).

Lets talk Buget. Obama proposes a 3.55 trillion dollar budget. In 2008 GW had a 2.9 trillion dollar budget. But wait … GW never included expenses like Iraq and Afghanistan. He did those through special appropriations. Add those costs and suddenly you get a 2008 budget of 3.2 – 3.3 trillion. Ok, so the difference between Obama and GW is ~10-15%. Wow. Not as much as Rush would have everyone believe. And the big difference is that Obama is trying to overt an economic disaster.

Now as for bailouts … remember that before GW left he have Hank P. a check for almost 1 trillion and told him to fix the banks. Now Obama has followed suit with his secretary for a second round of funding.

What does this tell you? That Obama and Bush are fundamentally the same? No. They are not. What it tells you is that when your looking down the barrel of a gun we all behave alike. We save or our skin even if it means taking on more debt. Debt is easier to pay off with a working economy then a collapsed one.

On another objective note … conservatives, for espousing a winner take all philosophy, you sure are whinny bi$%#@s when you lose.

Posted by Juls | Report as abusive

Obama speaks somewhat well when his teleprmopter is functioning. He has no experience in business, other than shaking down businesses and organizing economy busting agitators.
He is going to take America down and much more rapidly than anyone predicted.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

Speaking from the independent right, Obama and Bush are not comparable. For the latter, it seemed perfectly fine to spend $600,000 for each cruise missile in Iraq essentially to scare people and throw dust in the air. Wasted cash. Then of course we spend billions rebuilding. It would have been cheaper throwing bags of $600,000 at people.

However, all of that is in the past. Anything President Obama does in terms of foreign relations represents a huge improvement. Perhaps if he would crush the unions, cut off the private members of mob chiefs, and force the children of banking executives to work on banana planations, personally I would be completely delighted with Mr. Obama’s performance. Do it, bro.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Obama is not a Marxist. He is a Communist. There’s a difference.

Posted by Irving Gefrebnoh | Report as abusive

The statement assumed there was a honeymoon in the first place. In my view there wasn’t. People inside and outside United States have very high hope on him even before he sworn into office. He was forced to comment on the War on Gaza at a time when Bush was still the president. Wall Street almost collapsed when US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner failed to come up with a detailed plan on the 3rd week after Obama sworned into office.
At this very moment, Obama still has not reached the 1st 100-day mark of his presidency.

Posted by Lee Siu Hoi | Report as abusive

You encourage a great discussion at exactly the right moment of need.

Obama has enlightened us with his words and historic political accomplishments indeed, though his actions will present his solutions.

One grand solution would unite the globe under one elastic currency providing minimum $100k US annual income to every human. 17 year olds and under would not be allowed to spend their monies until the age of 18, and must hold their annual allocations within an interest growing fund that would repay the total debt.

Posted by Nikco | Report as abusive

You’re darn right Obama inherited this bad economy. Yes, from his own party. Remember the democrat was in control of congress since 2006. Running the lending industries to the ground. Look at all those who are in the pockets of these companies. CHRUS DODD who has been getting great deals that none of us out here can’t get. Oh my God, a cottage where is that again, Scotland? Barney Frank who should be in prison rather than running a committee in congress? ACORN who was under Obama the Organizer and who was pushing illegal campaign practices and many, many others. I feel bad for the health of Edward Kennedy, but he should have served prison time for the death of that woman back when? Hulk Hogan’s son is in prison for causing the death of a human being during an accident which he caused. Although with his case it wasn’t reported hours later. But then he is not a Kennedy. I am very angry that me, my children, and grandchildren will be taking part in paying for the $400 million dollars to be paid for the LEGACY of that criminal. The people of Massachusett should be billed for it.

What is this again, tax problem with another nominee? How many is that now. And according to Obama they are the best to do the job. Isn’t that very embarrassing for the democrat, that you only have criminals qualified to do the job. Why not just hire the MAFIA they can better run an organization the you all.

Back when the problem with lending company was just then coming out. Remember what was said by many democrats? According to Chuck Schumer “why fix what ain’t broken.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are alive and healthy said Barney Frank, and a number of democrat congress people. How soon we forget.

Gees, it just seems like Bush is the miracle maker, not only can he make the weather to happen, but he can also cook the books that are in the hands of these great companies. And with just a wave of his hand.

You all mock Bush by saying he was botching the English language. Which by the way we found out Obama can’t speak it well either without the help of a teleprompter. Do you know how many errors Obama made but was never reported? Some were lulus, but who cares about that. We only care when Bush make the mistakes. You see Obama can’t speak his mind. The teleprompter has to speak for him. Because of Bush being a miracle maker maybe Bush was just speaking in tongue.

Here we are calling Obama the MESSIAH, and all along it was actually George W Bush.

Posted by Rosita E. Asano | Report as abusive

Here Here Lee Siu Hoi
Look what he has done and not even hit 100 days – I call that overtime- not honeymoon.
Naysayers want this to be fixed NOW – like any other candidate could accomplish that one. This is going to take a long time. And – people around the world are as mad as we are. You bet they will be protesting this week. Workers of the world – UNITE.

Posted by eloise | Report as abusive

These Europeans are really a pathetic bunch. They whine and carry on when Bush proposes the missile shield, now complain that Obama appears to be backing off of what was always a very bad idea. The truth, there is no pleasing them, but thankfully no one on this side of the Atlantic thinks it is worth our time trying to. Obama has problems in his own country, he needs to fix them and if the Europeans have any sense they will tend to their own problems instead of ruminating about a so-called “honeymoon” gone sour.

Posted by James Brennan | Report as abusive

Don (7:36pm):

I’m a bit puzzled. You say you’re from the independent right, yet you also say that if Obama castrates mob chiefs and (this one really stood out) practices forced labor on kids just because of who their dads are, you’d be ‘completely delighted’ with his performance.

That doesn’t sound like anything even remotely resembling the right, Don — it sounds like a very typical, embittered, class-envy leftist who wishes ill on those who’ve merely succeeded where he hasn’t. Wishing gross, vile stuff on others — when it would gain you nothing but some sort of perverted, smug satisfaction at their suffering — exposes you as a pretty shallow (and mean) individual. Don’t you have better stuff to do than just sit around hating others?

Posted by Just Me | Report as abusive

As for Afghanistan- no slow learning- just tying up the Taliban and preventing a complete collapse of what little has been achieved. Also, keeping a in road to the Paki border to do what the Paki government is to lame to do- tie up AQ.

On the EU front- power is still power- when we want the other EU leaders opinions- we’ll ask them for it.

Posted by Lampson | Report as abusive

He is a communist. He is destroying our nation with lightening speed. We aren’t even safe anymore. God help us.

Posted by jill | Report as abusive

I think Obama is a victim of their own party and, needless to say, of the GOP as well. Both parties had him win the presidency to blame him for all the mistakes he is doing in trying to fix the economy and everything else. Anyways and for whatever reasons he is the USA president, he has come to be a punishment for all of us the americans that broke the law. Yes, the basic law of right and wrong. One just need to look back in history and realize that the 4th majors empires of the world did not have a black leader. Look at Africa right now, they all live in poverty. Obama comes from there. he is going to lead us into poverty. He is the sign that America is about to stop being a superpower. Im not agisnt him, GOD bless him. It is just that AMERICA broke the law of rihgt and wrong. We have now corruption everywhere, goverment, corporations, killings of the unborn, you name it!

Posted by saul | Report as abusive

listing all the crises, critisizing, and naysaying – that’s for pessimists and losers, get off your a@# and face the problem head on, take responsibility, grow a pair, and reestablish your credibility. this applies to people and countries. that’s how you fix a mistake/problem! almost forgot, if you try to do it withot being acceptably honest, you’ll still get nowhere.

Posted by hard liner | Report as abusive

Saul, I would be very careful with that comment. For most part of the known civilisation, ie 4,500 out of the last 5,000 years, China was the richest country in the world. I would not suggest the Chinese to lead the world out of this recession. Giuliani put up his name as candidate but did not campaign at all. GOP wants Obama or Clint to take up this hot seat.

Posted by Lee Siu Hoi | Report as abusive

I wont comment on Mr. Shepherd’s views, thought I dont completely disagree with him. Mr. Obama needs to go a long way, as not only america’s economy, but indirectly world economy is also dependant on his dicisions. Obama could’ve been the right person, but unfortunately, he got elected on wrong time.
And yeah, the thought that he ‘promises too much, delivers too little’ is gaining popularity. Some of you said that its too early to judge him. Well, he’s not CEO of any company or Dean of any college. I think he is holding the top most office in this world. And with great power, comes great responsibility.

Posted by Farhan Zaheer | Report as abusive

First of all! Go read two books! Atlas Shrugged by Ann Rynn and Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin. If you don’t know your History you are “CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT”. WAKE UP AMERICA! This country was built on hard work and blood sweat and tears. Freedom is the success of individuals helps others. GO read my friends.

Posted by Normal John | Report as abusive

I think the vast majority of political commentators should take a vow of silence. Obama has been in office three whole months and already, these amateur nim-nutz are declaring an end to his effectiveness. As if a global financial melt-down of this magnitude could even impacted in this short amount of time. I for one would like to see the whole lot of the commentators shut the hell up and let the professionals do their work. The biggest obstacle to financial recorvery is the millions of chickens running around with their heads cut off.

Posted by Doid | Report as abusive

Mr. Shepard. Our Mr. President Obama does not make pretty speeches. You may call him Mr. President. He is neither playing nor posturing, unlike yourself. It is to be hoped you may develop a sense of respect, appropriate to your position.

Posted by Susan Templeton | Report as abusive

Obama is a talented politician, very bright…and very ambitious…and a minority…the Tiger Woods of American Politics…but understand this…anyone elected the the US Presidency at age 47 right out of their first term as a US Senator is NOT his own man.

Obama’s charisma and time of history allow him to be the mouthpiece and pawn that his senior Advisors NEED him to be to bring about the CHANGE he has promised. He has the platform and the mandate the bring CHANGE…and what is so “undemocratic” about this pendulum shift in US Politics is that he has unhindered authority to make “change” happen.

The G-20, NATO, and all manner of future high level meetings will be tests of his mettle for sure…but remember that it is Obama is beholden to the power-brokers who got him elected. Record turn out…certainly. But the power if the media combined with the folly and ineptness of both the Democtats and Republicans allow for these things to happen. At the bottom of this “change” message is the Trilateral Commission, Council of Foreign Relations and Private authoritarian Federal Reserve mechanism. That is where the power lies- and it remains hidden behind the unflappable and charasmatic optimism of Barrack Hussein Obama.

Goodbye Free Enterprise…hello Socialism! What was once creeping upon the US in now at a full gallup! Bring on the stimulus baby…whatever it takes…just crank up those printing presses! Let’s prepare the world for Bretton Woods III!

Posted by bustedpopsicle | Report as abusive

I’m very much of the opinion that the damage the Obama has inherited has nothing to do with the Republicans, Democrats, race, creed, color, or sexual orientation. What he has inherited is a broken economic engine that was started back in the 1920’s with:

The New Deal
Keynesian Economics
Federal Reserve
Fiat Money
Fractional Reserve Banking

Did you realize that if we had none of this and simply relied on the gold standard, as we did up to 1913 that the effective economic high water mark would be a 50x growth over a 37x growth? Compare the best marks for the stock markets against the current value of gold.
Much of what has led us to this position is the printing of money and re removal of a gold standard to back our dollar. As a result we have meaningless bits of paper. The action to print Trillions of Dollars will devestate this nation for a generation.
in 2008 we hit the tipping point of running the Federal Reserve’s game of fiat money. In 2009 we will hit the tipping point as an international power. Over the coming decade we will see a declination of US influences in the world as we fall out of super power status. And the damage will not come from other nations but from ourselves.

Posted by allison | Report as abusive

Allison, if we went back to the gold stadard Russia would be far wealthier than the US. Do you really want that? And I wonder if Scoop Jackson’s kids know you are appropriating his name in your cause, Mr. Shepherd. Boy would I love to be their attorney if they don’t.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

It would help if you understood the gold standard.
The goal isn’t to return to the standard that the dollar is 1/20 of an ounce of gold. Today it would be more like 1/1000 of an ounce of gold. But that fixes everyone’s exchange rate and restores the dollar to tangible commodity value.
This would eliminate the practice of printing money as an attempt to fix things. The only results are:

Higher Wages.
Higher Prices.
Lower Debt (fixed dollar debts)
Lower Assets (fixed dollar debts)

Anyone who has saved money for retirement loses.
Anyone on fixed incomes (welfare, retired, assisted living) loses.
Anyone with a fixed dollar debt wins (Banks, Federal Reserve). Your mortgage will drop as milk goes from $3 to $7 a gallon. But so will your retirement stipend drop.
Anyone with a job doesn’t gain anything as their income is increased only after prices increase and historically this has never been at a match to inflation.
The people who suffer most are those at the bottom of the economic ladder, not at the top.

Posted by allison | Report as abusive

The media are calling him “the Messiah”. I think Obama is far more realistic. And actually, it is also up to European nations to show that they are willing to work with the USA again, and forget the years of anti-European propaganda trumpeted by the right-wing fanatics in the USA, who came close to reaching their ultimate goal of turning the USA into a genuinely feudal society.

Let’s see what happens, hmmm? I have interviewed a few wheels in Europe (as a journalist living here it is now impossible to get anything published in the USA, the country is firmly stuck in its own bellybutton), including one major politician and they do believe that the G20 is important to get the dialogue going again after 8 years of the Bush disaster. So my take is indeed: wait and see what happens when things reboot.

Posted by Catspaw | Report as abusive


I believe you are astute and well informed.

However, I would venture that the “money-changers” who control the Federal Reserve mechanism would not be stymied by a return or “quasi return” to a “gold standard” backing of fiat currency. They would simple look to acquire the gold, or whatever basket of precious metals might in the future amalgamate to form the new world reserve currency.

The other big “unknown” is…”How much gold is really in Ft. Knox?” There has not been an official audit since the Eisenhower Administration! Nixon closed the convertibility window in August 1971 as the French called out bluff and demanded gold in exchange for our fiat currency. So, while we are “reported” to hold some 8,133 tons…I would say that is highly doubtful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_go ld_reserves

Much of this gold represents to confiscated Gold of the Roosevelt Executive Order from the early 30’s.

Personally, I am now beginning to learn Mandarin Chinese alongside my young daughter and son. I think I will certainly need “the skill” in the coming decades.
The 20th century was hailed as the “Great American Century”. It was. Our superpower zenith was reached in 1945. *Though as you pointed out, the seeds of demise were planted in 1913 with Christmas legislature legitimizng the “illegitimate” Federal Reserve.
The 21st will belong to China and India. “Chindia” will in all likelihood become the world’s dueling superpowers, and hopefully will remain more benign in their “quasi cold war” relationship. The US (I fear) will decline, much as Britain declined throughout the 19th and into the 20th century.

We are now in the winter phase of our 233 year democracy.

Posted by bustedpopsicle | Report as abusive

Barack Obama’s campaign effectively turned the American election into a referendum on hope. And his victory, while one cannot discount the matchless effectiveness of his campaign, can fairly be described as a resounding statement of just how Americans yearn for something in which to invest hope. Now with the honeymoon almost over, the people expect him to stand up to challenges. There is an uncanny similarity between former British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s diplomacy and that of Obama’s. The Chamberlain form of diplomacy led Hitler to ignite World War II. The lesson is: diplomacy not underpinned by action is fruitless, even dangerous.

Posted by Robert George | Report as abusive

Barrack Obama, a man with whom many had invested their hopes have already started turning their backs at him within a span as short as 3 months.One should also consider that the G20 meet is gonna be the first international summit where he will be addressing delegates from different corners of the world.Isnt it peurile to deem him as a futile democrat even before we hear from him at the summit?He aint SUPERMAN after all to resolve the financial crisis in 3 months that has swept the globe and has rendered many jobless.He too is a human being in flesh and blood like all of us and let us be a tad patient before we start condeming someone who has trudged his way through to get to the top.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Well it’s clear by now, Obama is nothing more than a glib talker and an opportunist. After harping over change, when time for action arrived he did nothing more than preserving everything that is old and rotten. Even today he is reluctant to impose regulations on hedge funds and the world of finance. He has done no more than giving public speeches about his anger at the executive pays and financial excesses but does not want to take any long term action that will curb such excesses in future. Why are hedge funds so essential that for their sake Obama is ready to sacrifice consensus at the G20 and leave scope for future catastrophe.

If Obama is that honest why is he trying so desperately to protect hedge funds from regulations. Like all his predecessors he is a liar. If France and Germany can afford to rein in these monsters why not Obama. And all developing countries want restrictions on these whose financial markets have been robbed again and again by these predators. May be those who have controlled Washington in the past have been successful to buy Obama also. What value do these people add rather than indulging in speculative activities and creating bubbles. Their power comes from the fact that they control huge amount if money. Ban them and they will be worse than beggars as they know nothing other than gambling.

Obama has shown where his priorities lie and for whom he works. Also amazing is that Britain which harder hit than most other European economies has not yet officially pushed for financial regulation and sought to put pressure on Obama. Even British Prime Minister is doing nothing more than paying lip service. In my opinion Obama has successfully run the biggest ponzi scheme in the electoral history of the world.

Posted by asterix117 | Report as abusive

Well put asterix117. He would not have been allowed to be elected if he weren’t playing ball with the guys that really run things (IMF, WHO, World Bank and Federal Reserve). Too many vested interests and too much chicanery will lead us down the path of destruction. It’s just politics as usual. All a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Obama is quickly turning out to be just one of the boyz. Unfortunately, the whole thing is rigged. Grass roots education is where it starts if we ever want to do anything about it.

Posted by Billiam | Report as abusive

listen up world – we americans are special people blessed with a whole free continent from the man himself cause he knew those other people weren’t really humans just heathens

so you ain’t got nothin to worry bout cause we can print out as many of those greenbacks as you fools will take in, crank em around and we’ll do it all over again just like it has been foretold in the good book about special people like us

can’t ya just get it and stop complaining so much?

they call it providence for a reason ya know

Posted by vilhelm vos especiale | Report as abusive

“America will cease to be great…when America ceases to be good”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_de_T ocqueville

The real question is…How close are we? What say u Vilhelm?

Posted by bustedpopsicle | Report as abusive

In Europe we seem to see things this way: Obama’s honeymoon may be over, but he’s doing a great job at building a good, robust relationship with the world. This is NOT “the counterpoint to a hostility felt by so many against his predecessor”, it is that finally the most powerful global politician has the right attitude towards contemporary problems, gathering a real coalition AND setting a serious, good example. This is real leadership (not just for him; for the US, too) and the world is recognizing it. Basically, he is telling our governments, they need to take on more responsibility for their future, stop depending on the US to get them out of troubles, and do their own share of the job. Guess what? He’s charismatic enough to sell them a deal they had been afraid of all along. Apart from the loud few who still refuse to accept the reality of a global world, Europeans welcome the change. THANKS President Obama, and THANK you Americans for electing him.

Posted by Laura Cambiago | Report as abusive

When was the Obama honeymoon over?

Like all honeymoons, it was over the morning after the election.

Posted by John Smith | Report as abusive

Dear Mr Robin,

Capitalism is dead, and it’s being replaced by a jungle economic lifestyle.


Marcel J. Kiza

Posted by Marcel J Kiza | Report as abusive

Lets do a quick summary of some of the comments so far…

Dear Mr President,

In spite of the fact that you’re tasked with undoing almost a decade’s worth of poor economic, foreign and domestic policy choices, we feel that the 70 odd days that you’ve been at it has been more than enough time to achieve this in.

Now, could you please hurry up and solve this financial crisis *now*… we need to get back to our previous lives of excesses. The fact that you are the *single* world leader that is actually doing something about this crisis, along with the fact that this crisis is unprecedented in terms of complexity and reach, is no longer considered as redeeming factors by us.

Geez… who do you guys pray to at night?

Posted by Quintin | Report as abusive

That is simply a lie. The Europeans were not booing Obama

Posted by bubblinbrown | Report as abusive