Obama Has Restored Respect to America(?)

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Sailing into the last year and a half of his presidency, Barack Obama decided to toot his own horn Monday while speaking to YSEALI Fellows. The group, which is an exchange program for The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, listened as the president gave himself credit for restoring the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world.

“People don’t remember,” Obama said, “but when I came into office, the United States in world opinion ranked below China and just barely above Russia, and today once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth. Part of that I think is because of the work we did to reengage the world and say we want to work with you as partners with mutual interests and mutual respect.” Obama went on to cite his success in ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his efforts to negotiate with Iran, and his historical movements towards normalized Cuban relations as key to this turnaround.

Obama also said he was proud to have risen above racial politics. “One of my core principles is that I will never engage in a politics in which I’m trying to divide people or make them less than me because they look different or have a different religion.”

Obama’s remarks drew a strong response from Charles Krauthammer on Fox News. Speaking to Bill O’Reilly, Krauthammer said, “You wonder what world, what planet he’s living on and it’s not just as you enumerated, our enemies who have respect for us. The King of Bahrain was supposed to come to the summit in Camp David with the President of the United States […] where was the king? At a horse show in England. Now, if that’s a sign of respect, we’ve got problems.”

Indeed. 2014 polls from both Gallup and the Panetta Institute found that more than 70 percent of Americans thought the country had lost international respect under President Obama. Global polls do show an uptick in “respect” from the waning days of the Bush administration, but is that something to get excited about? When we gain respect through appeasement and submissiveness, is it a respect worth having?

Obama’s comments on racial politics are even more baffling. Time and again, Obama has misused his platform to deepen the racial divide. From Henry Louis Gates to Trayvon Martin to the overzealous actions of Eric Holder, the Obama White House has made race a central issue. Most Americans feel we are more racially divided today than we were before Obama. Is that all his fault? Of course not. But for him to claim that he never engages in that type of division is a lie.

It’s a testimony to Obama’s cluelessness that he can pat himself on the back after the tenure he’s had. It will take a president of almost supernatural strength to rescue this country from Obama’s quagmire. Perhaps he should be forgiven for blowing his own trumpet. When the world wakes up to the damage he’s done, there won’t be anyone else willing to do it.