A Powerless Obama’s “First Test”

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

They’re getting impatient out there in the outside world for Obama – real impatient. Last week’s attacks in Mumbai only made this situation worse, to the point that India’s crisis has somehow become Barack Obama’s crisis. This we read even in the normally-sober Financial Times Deutschland, in an article by Washington correspondent Sabine Muscat: “Evil prophecy for Obama.” The lede: “He is not yet president. And still the attacks in India are the first test of the foreign-policy man Barack Obama.”

In truth, this “Barack Obama’s first foreign policy test” has been a red-hot label looking for something to which to affix itself ever since he won the election, if not even before. For one thing, remember the remarks on the campaign-trail by Joe Biden – comments apparently not particularly welcomed by the Obama campaign – about how there surely would occur some international crisis early in the new administration, one deliberately engineered to test the new president’s resolve. As Muscat points out, this “evil prophecy” was also a line White House press spokesperson Dana Perino was pushing – for obvious partisan purpose – just before the election, and it was certainly part of John McCain’s own pitch, implicitly if not explicitly. In these early-transition days, then, it would not have taken much of an unpleasant nature, happening anywhere in the world, to turn into “Obama’s first foreign challenge,” with all eyes swiveling to Chicago to see what he intended to do about it. (more…)

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