Family Night for Obamas Miffs Some in Moscow, and for good reason:
The decision to brush off the Russians on one of his two nights here miffed some in the Moscow government who did not understand why he would not devote the scarce time to his hosts. Mr. Obama had dinner with President Dmitri A. Medvedev on Monday and lunch with him on Tuesday.
What we have here is a failure to communicate: Pres. Obama’s foreign host, be it Sarkozy, Dmitri Medvedev, or whoever the next dignitary may be, naively considers the office and duties of head of state to be the top priority during state visits. They simply don’t understand that the endless self-promotion and apology tours are mere background opportunities for Obama to showcase himself as above all such mundane concerns:
The first family enjoyed a relaxed evening at the O2 Lounge, the super-chic, super-pricey rooftop club at the new Ritz-Carlton, although no doubt the Secret Service first cleared the place of most if not all of the swaggering tycoons and leggy models who flock to such Moscow venues.
They could not ask for a more scenic vista. The glass-enclosed O2 offers a panoramic view of Moscow, including Red Square and the Kremlin, all the more striking as the lingering summer sun sets after 10 p.m. The club is “a place to see and be seen,” as its Web site says — that is, unless you are a visiting president who after a day and a half of blinis, beluga and bilats (the diplo term for “bilateral meetings”) just wants to hang out with the clan.
And what better place for the O’s to hang out than the O2, which might even have been named after him? I wonder if Spike Lee’s lawyer is listening.
And why shouldn’t Obama regard these state visits as simple background for himself? The NYTimes certainly doesn’t mind:
Mr. Obama has seemed tired here, several times fumbling the pronunciation of Mr. Medvedev’s name and Mr. Putin’s title. Beginning a speech here, he mistakenly said he first met his wife in school instead of at the law firm where they actually met. And he misstated his younger daughter’s age.
As Erik says,
With Barack Obama, what do we get? “Mr. Obama has seemed tired.” No, not “he was (is) clueless”, not “he was (is) unprepared”, not even “he was tired” that day, no, “Mr. Obama has seemed tired.”
But Erik, back then the press was not blinded by The Lighttm enough to realize that b-s’ing people with hockey player names and the such was not proof of your mental agility when compared with your forgetting important family details such as where you actually first met the Mrs and your daughter’s age.
CNN is equally besotted, Obama girls take Russia by storm, and so is Stylist, exclaiming Michelle Obama’s Style for Russia Trip – What a Fashionable First Family!
The Russians, on the other hand, having lived with centuries’ worth of narcissistic egotists passing as heads of state, were underwhelmed by Obama:
Crowds did not clamor for a glimpse of him. Headlines offered only glancing or flippant notice of his activities. Television programming was uninterrupted; devotees of the Russian Judge Judy had nothing to fear. Even many students and alumni of the Western-oriented business school where Mr. Obama gave the graduation address on Tuesday seemed merely respectful, but hardly enthralled.
“We don’t really understand why Obama is such a star,” said Kirill Zagorodnov, 25, one of the graduates. “It’s a question of trust, how he behaves, how he positions himself, that typical charisma, which in Russia is often parodied. Russians really are not accustomed to it. It is like he is trying to manipulate the public.”
Buy young Kirill a beer!
The Times, however, can’t make out why the tepid reception, deploring,
Even Michelle Obama, who typically enjoys admiring coverage in the local news media when she travels, has not had her every move chronicled here.
As Daniel Drezner put it,
Seriously? Seriously?! The President of the United States visits a staunchly nationalist country that has significant conflicts with Washington, and the charm offensive didn’t take? Well, blow me down!!
Ralph Peters is nowhere near as sanguine as the NYT and CNN about Obama’s Russian trip: DESPERATE DEAL
OBAMA’S MOSCOW GIVEAWAY
He agreed to trim our nuclear-warhead arsenal by one-third and — even more dangerously — to cut the systems that deliver the nuclear payloads. In fact, the Russians don’t care much about our warhead numbers (which will be chopped to a figure “between 1,500 and 1,675”). What they really wanted — and got — was a US cave-in regarding limits on our nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles that could leave us with as few as 500 such systems, if the Russians continue to get their way as the final details are negotiated.
Moscow knows we aren’t going to start a nuclear war with Russia. Putin (forget poor “President” Dmitry Medvedev) wants to gut our conventional capabilities to stage globe-spanning military operations. He wants to cut us down to Russia’s size.
Our problem is that many nuclear-delivery systems — such as bombers or subs — are “dual-use”: A B-2 bomber can launch nukes, but it’s employed more frequently to deliver conventional ordnance.
Putin sought to cripple our ability to respond to international crises. Obama, meanwhile, was out for “deliverables” — deals that could be signed in front of the cameras. Each man got what he wanted.
And that’s enough to give anyone nightmares.
Special thanks to Maria (who knows Russia well) for the links.
She wore a grey T-shirt to visit the Colosseum in Rome with mother Michelle and sister Sasha, seven, and then appeared to have whipped it off to reveal a mottled white and grey top also bearing the CND logo.
The symbol, designed for the CND in 1958, is now widely used as to signify peace and is also an international sign for anti-war protesters.