Commentary Magazine


Silly Us

We have been wondering how Barack Obama would get by overseas with unscripted moments, in new settings to which he is unaccustomed. I think I have it: he isn’t going to speak in public unless it is scripted. Today from Afghanistan: “I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking.” And from the Wall Street Journal:

 Facing Republican attacks that Sen. Barack Obama’s coming overseas trip is a political stunt, the Obama campaign said the Democratic presidential contender will hold private meetings with Middle Eastern and European leaders, and avoid public appearances that could be perceived as campaigning.

It could be percevied as having to handle topics he is ill-equipped to opine upon, with no teleprompter. He has already stiffed the foreign press which is notoriously aggressive and unmanageable. In other words he’s there to look around and take some pictures to show back home. Is he on a tourist visa?

Well, he will give his big talk in Germany. But like a stereotypical American tourist who tries to re-create America overseas, this is no more than a U.S.-style stadium rally, with speech firmly in hand. The question is whether the U.S. media will do its job, press Obama for some real answers and take him out of his comfort zone. Otherwise, we’ll have only the photo album with which to assess the trip. And that, of course, was the point all along.