SAN ANTONIO -- The world's most famous teleprompter reader has lost his audience. For two years, President Barack Obama had the American electorate and world leaders eating out of the palm of his hand. At virtually every U.S. and overseas venue, he was welcomed by huge cheering throngs. His oratory was described as "magnetic," "eloquent" and "spellbinding." Just nine months into his term, his "accomplishments" were deemed worthy of a Nobel Prize. Not anymore.
After being chastened by the voters in one of the greatest electoral reversals in American history, the president flew away on the most expensive foreign junket ever taken by an American head of state. But his appearances this week in India, Indonesia and South Korea have made it vividly clear to all that Obama is incapable of shaping events.
Though he still panders to every audience, his obsequious bows to foreign potentates and apologies for America's misdeeds no longer hold the allure and cachet they carried just months ago. In New Delhi, he reiterated his Utopian plea for a world without nuclear weapons and spoke of supporting India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council -- without mentioning that both India and Pakistan hide their atomic arsenals from U.N. arms inspectors.
He paid homage to Gandhi, danced with schoolchildren in Indonesia and went to the G-20 summit in Seoul, where he continued to whine about trade imbalances and currency manipulation while defending further devaluation of the American dollar. Along the way, he missed yet another opportunity to define our enemy as radical Islam and ignored American troops in harm's way by treating Iraq and Afghanistan like flyover country.
The president's rhetorical flourishes and quests for applause lines on this trip provide striking examples of his chaotic, uncertain leadership at home and abroad. While he was reiterating his campaign pledge to bring all American troops home from Iraq, his defense secretary, Robert Gates, was suggesting the newly formed Iraqi government may want U.S. troops to stay beyond the 2011 deadline for withdrawal.
But on Afghanistan, Obama may have begun to backtrack. This week, he said: "While I have made it clear that American forces will begin the transition to Afghan responsibility next summer, I've also made it clear that America's commitment to the Afghan people will endure. The United States will not abandon the people of Afghanistan -- or the region -- to violent extremists who threaten us all."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.