Recently there has been a lot of talk in the German press about President Obama's fall from grace. In other words, how the American public has become disenchanted with the President. First of all, I'm not sure this is an accurate reflection of public sentiment; and second, if it's true, I think the American public had unusually high expectations to begin with. What did Americans expect from President Obama? His resume was short, his qualifications minimal, and his political experience scant. As I said during the presidential campaign, he sings a good song, but can he deliver the goods.
During the campaign, President Obama demonstrated suburb oratory skills, an uncanny ability to excite young voters, and good marketing tactics, but what did he bring to the table? He did prevent a McCain presidency and that's something! Where would we be with President McCain and Vice-President Palin. One shutters to thinks. Moreover, President Obama offered a bright light after years of darkness.
Obama's message was "change," and his election, was, in some respects, similar to the election of President Carter who entered office following the Watergate Scandal. President Carter's message was "honesty," and he offered Americans hope after years of Washington impropriety. President Carter's initial popularity quickly evaporated as the economy took a nose dive, the Iran hostage crisis escalated, and his perception as a leader turned negative. This may be happening to President Obama. I hope this is not the case because the alternative is a Republican Party moving further and further to the right.
To his credit, President Obama has succeeded in getting a form of universal heath care, and even made an effort at bipartisanship in a polarized Senate and House. He has also made some political gaffs, including his misplaced "Mosque" comments, and his invitation to religious leader Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration. But for the most part, he has steered clear of controversy, a welcome relief after the Bush-Cheney years. All and all, he has done a competent job, after 1 1/2 years in office.
In Europe, the Obama's are still viewed as "Pop Stars." That partly explains President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and why Michelle Obama's face can be seen everywhere. We see Michelle on the front page of the daily newspapers, on the nightly news and on almost every magazine cover. We see her vacationing in Spain, wearing the latest fashion, or extolling the virtues of home gardening. I don't see this as a negative. I simply find it fascinating that Europeans are so in love the First Lady. She has an almost Jackie Kennedy mystique.
Moreover, in the eyes of the German press, President Obama can do no wrong. Reality hasn't arrived. When it does, Europe, like the USA, will see President Obama in a clear and unvarnished light: neither a great President nor a poor one, merely an average one.