By Michael Barone, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
They will love us again, Obamaenthusiasts exulted, other countries will love us when we replace Bushchimphitler with a sophisticated, urbane leader who shows respect for other nations.
Well, how's that playing out? Not so well. Barack Obama, as it happens, has never visited Latin America. On the stump and otherwise he has paid little attention to it. So perhaps it's not surprising that in the last few days he has shown disrespect for the two leading nations of Latin America, Brazil and Mexico, two nations which between them have half the population of Latin America. Two nations which have intelligent, constructive presidents, the center-left Lula da Silva of Brazil and the center-right Felipe Calderon on Mexico.
Here's the Associated Press account of Obama's meeting with Lula. Note that the leader of the world's fifth most populous country was slotted in on a Saturday. Here's a live blog that notes that the leader of historically protectionist Brazil did a far better job of pressing for free trade. Lula wants to revive the Doha round talks, in which Brazil has played an important and constructive role. The Obama administration doesn't seem much interested.
And here is Mexico's Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan on Congress's decision to continue to bar Mexican trucks from the United States, in violation of NAFTA. Has the Obama administration lifted a finger to stop the Democrats in Congress from this shameless sellout to their paymasters in the Teamsters Union? Not so far as one can tell.
Cheap shot attacks on the Bush foreign policy as dictatorial and disrespectful of other nations have continued even after Bush has left office, as in this column by the usually sophisticated Fareed Zakaria. Perhaps such gratuitous insults are required for admittance to Manhattan salons. What if anything do Bush critics have to say about the disrespect shown by the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress for Brazil and Mexico?
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By Michael Barone