Changing political climate

Nestor MataNEW YORK
The political climate is changing for Barack Obama. Ever since he entered the White House ten months ago as the first black United States president last January, he has lost popularity.
His approval ratings, especially among the independents who voted for him, some Republicans and fellow Democrats, have dimmed below 50 percent for the first time in the latest poll conducted by the respected Gallup.

The United States’ economic woes caused his approval ratings down to 49 percent. Before this his ratings held on in the low 50s and didn’t drop until just recently.

The steep decline from 68 percent when he started his presidency, as one Washington political watcher noted, is the result of “inflated expectations” about what Obama could accomplish in Washington.
Indeed, one remembers well his presidential campaign promise to change or reform the face of Washington’s politics. He failed to deliver because the expectations were unrealistic.

That term “inflated expectations” may well apply to Gloria Arroyo whose performance and trust ratings continue to dip, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey. Like Obama, she, too, had vowed —- and failed —- to “reform politics” here in the Philippines. That was soon after she questionably wrested the presidency from then legitimately-elected President Joseph Estrada nine years ago.

But the similarity ends here. While Gloria’s approval ratings were consistently low from the beginning of her illegitimate presidency, Obama’s popularity ratings were really very high soon after he won the presidential race to the White House.

Now, back to Obama’s diminishing popularity ratings. While most of the erosion of his approval rating has suffered since taking office is driven by the bad economy, the dip below 50 percent may well have been due, too, to his recent week-long trip to Asia, but particularly to China.

Obama’s first trip to China, a huge country that is rising as a world economic power, has yielded little cooperation from Beijing’s leaders on such sensitive issues as the global economic crisis, the currency, the sanctions against Iran and the two wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese leaders’ disagreement on these issues is “a sign” of the shifting balance of power between America and China, which has been locked in an uneasy embrace for more than three decades now.
Their attitude probably stems from the fact that America today owes China billions of dollars, and China’s economy is humming while America’s is sluggish.

Chinese President Hu Jintao clearly explains their posture in these words:. “I underlined to President Obama that our differences in national conditions, it is only normal that our two sides may disagree on some issues. What is important is to respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concern.”
“The sharp economic downturn, and the failure of the U.S. to impose its will in two very costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shrunk America’s global leverage,” was how Time looked at it. “Today, far less powerful countries than China routinely decline to follow Washington’s lead.”

I just read an assessment of POTUS Obama’s international gambits. That is, how he has fared in his foreign policy. It appears that he lacks tangible U.S. foreign policy achievements since he assumed the presidency last January. His empty-handed departure from China is certainly a good case study.

Well, while one can surmise that President Obama’s famed charisma and charm may have been his assets in catapulting him into the Oval Office, and later in gaining popular goodwill with leaders and peoples in Europe, Africa and Japan, their magical effects didn’t work in China.

Alas, these didn’t yield the cooperation that he sought from China’s present leaders.
Perhaps, President Obama should be given more time in repairing America’s global power now at its low ebb. He still has three more years in his first term to prove that he can break down the sense that America and its new leader don’t have any understanding of or identification with the rest of the world.
After all, as one political pundit put it, China’s star may be rising and America’s is ebbing, but the United States is “too big to fall.”

Only time will tell.

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