In liberals’ frenzy to elect Barack Obama in 2008, no one was quite as far out to sea as Andrew Sullivan, a respected columnist for the Atlantic website. He served up his “Daily Dish” by the plateful. Here’s perhaps the hottest example of his rhetoric—quoted endlessly around the blogosphere--back then:
“A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.”
I wish we could find that young Pakistani today. It would be most interesting to have him chat up Andrew Sullivan on the sea change in his country’s attitudes toward America’s most effective weapon in international relations, a President Barack Obama.
Last year, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project showed that Pakistan’s attitude toward the U.S. seemed to worsen the more foreign aid we sent to them. In 2010, American aid topped $1.33 billion, but then only 17% of Pakistanis held a favorable view of America.
That was, of course, before we found Osama bin Laden comfortably ensconced just outside the gates of Pakistan’s military academy. And no one in all of Pakistan had a clue he was there.
This year, after Mr. Obama brought bin Laden to justice—quite rightly in my view—and literally deep-sixed the remains in the Indian Ocean, the Pew Researchers last week reported that America is approved by just 12% of Pakistanis. Haven’t they been watching their televisions? It would be hard to avoid Mr. Obama’s handsome image on the tube.
But it’s not just Pakistan where America’s image is taking a beating. Recall Great Britain. In 2000, 80% of Britons approved the U.S. Today, Pew tells us, just 61% do. Maybe Mr. Obama should ask for Sir Winston’s bust back. Thousands turned out in 2008 in Berlin to cheer wildly for Sen. Obama. In 2000, 78% of Germans liked the U.S.; today, only 62% approve. In strategic Turkey, 52% of this NATO partner’s people approved America in 2000; today, that level has fallen precipitously to 10%. This is doubtless a reflection of the ongoing radicalization of this once reliable U.S. ally.