AT the London summit of world leaders recently, President Barack Obamaâ€™s star glowed brightly. And at its closing, the POTUS proclaimed the event a â€œturning pointâ€ in the effort to reverse the global economic crisis.
Indeed, the leaders of 20 industrialized nations called for $1.1 trillion in loans and financial guarantees for the poor countries largely through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
In contrast to these glowing reports from London about Obamaâ€™s first foray into global crisis-busting diplomacy, no one wanted to say just yet how the G20â€™s decision would be made to work to turn around the international financial meltdown.
[ad#featuredpost120x600-wht]Oh, of course, many observers noted that Obamaâ€™s â€œmojoâ€ must have cast a spell over most of his fellow summiteers, that he was â€œemollient, self-critical and articulate.” Not only them, the citizens of the sophisticated city of London were just as star-struck with him, greeting him affectionately, and later also the French in Strasbourg and the Germans in Baden-Baden, cities where he proceeded after visiting the Queen in London.
And Obama also captivated members of the European press. After nearly an hour, dozens of the reporters and cameramen broke out into thunderous applause. A beaming Swiss female journalist turned to an American colleague and said, â€œYour president is so impressive? Is he always so relaxed and open?”
Alas, not back home, in Obamaâ€™s Washington and in New York, where the mood was audibly not one of complete satisfaction. His fellow Americans were disenchanted and distressed by the tsunami-like effects of the economic downturn. Thousands were jobless, banks were closing down, real estate values were plummeting, and so on.
Why, before Obama left for London, the mainstream mediaâ€™s pundits and commentators, economic experts and analysts, were already critical of the new POTUSâ€™ performance and economic plans and programs.
One critic, David Brooks, a columnist of The New York Times, for example, commented that Obama has dived into different policy areas filled with firm resolution, but, in case after case, the really hard decisions are postponed until this summer or beyond. Obama, he said, will eventually have to make tough choices and by then the mood could have turned sour.
In contrast, Gail Collins, also a Times columnist, countered that Thereâ€™s a difference between refusing to make the difficult choices and accepting the natural rhythm of things. Then, waxing biblical, she said, â€œthereâ€™s a time to bail out and a time to crack down; a time to stimulate and a time to cut; a time to stampede and a time to take a deep breath and enjoy the spring weather.” And, optimistically, she added, â€œif there is any one true fact about Barack Obama, itâ€™s that he does not panic.”
But, apart from the more critical liberal columnists in other newspapers, many ordinary Americans, aside from some Democratic Party stalwarts, have really started to question Obama, indicating the beginning of a reversal of political fortune after less than 100 days in the Oval Office.
Indeed, as one disenchanted supporter bluntly put it, Obamaâ€™s celestial approval ratings seemed to be declining. â€œThe game has changed from praise to speculations about how and when heâ€™s going to fail.”
Quite significantly, the poll numbers showed that the public overwhelmingly blamed the excesses of the banks and other financial institutions for the present chaotic economy, rather than Obama.
Still and all, the national mood in the U.S. remains gloomy. Doubts are rising about some of Obamaâ€™s prescriptions for the economic woes, and that fewer Americans have expressed confidence his policies will work to stop the sagging U.S. economy.
This reminded Obama watchers to recall what they said about him during the presidential campaign last year – that the Oval Office was not a place for on-the-job training of the Democratic Partyâ€™s presidential candidate. Meaning that he lacked executive experience and that he canâ€™t really stand up to powerful interests at home or in the wider world.
Indeed, as one keen political analyst pointed out, Obama failed to grapple with the tortuous economy because he mishandled his relations with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He couldnâ€™t work with the Republicans and his fellow Democrats were messing him around, making his task of repairing the economy much harder to do.
Whatever, Obama still has four years ahead of him in the Oval Office. He does not panic easily. He is an impressive politician, and with his silver tongue he can inspire the American public, the skeptical independents, the Democrats, and hopefully even the Republicans, to help him serve the country in these parlous times.