Obama And 're-branding'

OBAMA AND 'RE-BRANDING'....This came up quite a bit a couple of weeks ago, after the annoying Bob Kerrey brouhaha, but it's also been a part of the campaign debate for months: would Barack Obama's ethnic and racial background help improve the United States' image internationally, if he's elected?

Reza Aslan argues that the "chattering classes" who are encouraged by Obama's potential impact around the world are mistaken.

[I]n the words of the French foreign policy analyst Dominique Moisi, "The very moment he appears on the world's television screens, victorious and smiling, America's image and soft power would experience something like a Copernican revolution."As someone who once was that young Muslim boy everyone seems to be imagining (albeit in Iran rather than Egypt), I'll let you in on a secret: He could not care less who the president of the United States is.

Aslan's point seems incontrovertible: U.S. critics internationally care about the president's policies, not the president's ethnicity. If there's a competition between image and substance, the result isn't even close. "That is how the post-Bush 'war on terror' must be handled," Aslan wrote. "Not by 're-branding' the mess George W. Bush has made, but by actually fixing it."

And while this is obviously true, I think there are a couple of angles to this that make Aslan's thesis less persuasive.