Obama doesn't really care a toss about Europe

Hadleigh Roberts

Obamamania will end in disappointment for all. Barack Obama's media portrayal, persona and reception really are too good to be true, and the result will be hubris on his part and disillusionment on ours.

While there is a feeling of inevitability (a word used advisedly) that Obama is the president-in-waiting, his image is also built around the theme of  "Hope"- everything is designed to suggest that he is some sort of Messiah. His logo, a capital letter  "O" in the colours of the American flag, with a sort of rainbow at the bottom, giving the roof of the  "O" the look of a rising son in the horizon inspire great expectations. Even the image on the cover of his book  "The Audacity of Hope" with him wearing an almost glowing white shirt in front of a white background reinforces this god-like impression.

Obama has been on a  "world tour" recently meeting various heads of state/government supposedly trying to rectify his perceived weakness as someone with a lack of foreign policy experience. While this is done with admirable intention, the concern is that, in addition to acting as if he were the current president of the USA, Obama has been taking extreme liberties with European leaders.

Obama seems uninterested in Europe, using it for his  'experience building' (as much experience as anyone can gain when they go on a holiday trip, despite being chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for the continent. The French newspaper Le Monde announced on July 24 that Obama has never asked to meet the European Union's ambassador in Washington.

This primadonna behaviour was particularly evident not in Berlin, where he was greeted by about 200,000 cheering and fawning supporters, but in London, where he was given a low-key reception outside 10 Downing Street, which made him no more humble. He had a meeting with Gordon Brown followed by a press conference, which Obama conducted on his own, despite the fact that it would be unthinkable for a British prime minister to appear in the White House Rose Garden without the president.

At this stage of the campaign, rhetoric and personality takes priority over real policy, and for the moment at least, Europeans adore Obama. When it becomes time to talk about the issues, especially trade and defence, where Obama has advocated protectionism and hinted that Europe should commit more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, the shine may wear off. Barack Obama has not even been elected yet, and may just be the hare to McCain's tortoise, to use the Aesop's fable analogy.