Feature

Obama’s world tour

The risks and rewards of a media extravaganza abroad  

Barack Obama is starting his six-day tour of Europe, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East any day now, said Karen Tumulty in Time’s Swampland blog, and “he’s clearly got a lot on the line.” Such is the interest in his “overseas audition,” in fact, that “all three broadcast networks are sending their anchors to Europe to interview him.”

“The anchors are a big coup for Obama,” said John Dickerson in Slate. They could, of course, magnify any gaffe and turn the trip into a disaster. But they “confer instant legitimacy,” and almost guarantee blanket coverage making Obama look “thoughtful, diplomatic, and commanding on the world stage.”

Obama’s arrogance as he plays president abroad is “unseemly enough,” said Investor's Business Daily in an editorial. “But the media fawning is a disgrace.” The networks, which have ignored John McCain’s foreign trips, have made it clear whose side they’re on.

McCain’s campaign is “less than pleased,” said Steve Benen in The Carpetbagger Report blog, and their complaint that McCain’s trips didn’t generate the same “fanfare” is “not unreasonable.” But they’d have a better case if they hadn’t made an issue of Obama’s lack of travel abroad in the first place.

Some Americans and Europeans still wonder what Obama has done to deserve all this excitement, said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Using Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as “a campaign prop,” for example, is something you have to earn—and Obama clearly hasn’t.

There's plenty of “political stagecraft” involved as both candidates campaign overseas, said USA Today in an editorial, but “more is at play than short-term campaign tactics.” With Americans concerned about two ongoing wars, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation, U.S. candidates engaging and focusing attention on foreign threat and opportunities is “without doubt a healthy development.”

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